EcoCAR Honors Women in STEM

General Motors is proud to sponsor the EcoCAR Women in STEM Awards.  These awards honor women from across many STEM disciplines who are demonstrating outstanding technical excellence both within their university academic programs, and most notably, through the EcoCAR program.

The judges were delighted to hear from 13 strong candidates this year. The accomplishments the candidates shared demonstrated their highly developed technical skills, commitment to encouraging other women to pursue and succeed in engineering and other STEM fields, and their overall excitement for EcoCAR.

The Women in STEM Rookie Award, named in honor of Lyn St. James, 1998 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, who partnered with AVTCs to create the Women in Engineering awards in Challenge X, this award recognizes an outstanding female who is already contributing to the team even though she has not been on the team for many years.  This award recognizes the potential in female leaders and encourages the recipient to harness her passion, hone her skills, and thrive in leadership.

This year’s Rookie Award Winner is Bahar Kholdi-Sabeti from University of Waterloo.

Bahar discovered her interest in her field of study after participating in an all-female Computer Science class which fueled her growth. She had the opportunity to gain industry experience through different internships exposing her to software skills and methodologies applicable to CAV and V2X, which resulted in excellent contributions to her team.

Bahar is currently the UWAFT CAV team lead and supports perception algorithm development and system safety. She has been an advocate for the promotion of Women in STEM through her engagements with other female students and encouraging them to join the team. Thanks to EcoCAR, she’s been able to gain hands-on experience to exercise the theory learned in the classroom, developing her technical and soft skills. As her future goal, she sees herself as a software engineer working on autonomous driving, robotics, or vision/perception technologies.

This year, the General Motors Women in STEM Award went to Bethany Welty from University of Alabama.

Bethany has been able to develop strong leadership skills as the System Safety lead for the UA EcoCAR team. Some of her contributions include in-vehicle verification and validation, implementation of severity ratings, and teaching her team CANalyzer. She’s gained a diverse skillset from various internship and co-op opportunities, including the learning and execution of SAFe Agile framework.

Bethany has gone above and beyond to create engagements to promote Women in STEM by developing initiatives to recruit and retain females on her team. To accomplish this, she supports networking events, visiting classes, and facilitating conversations related to overcoming Imposter Syndrome. In addition, she’s currently working on the initiation of a “Girls Who Code” chapter in a local school.  As part of her future goals, she plans to focus on data science as she continues supporting her institution’s all-female hackathon experience.

Bethany defines success for Women in STEM by creating a positive and empowering work environment in which women feel respected and recognized. She strongly believes that we can overcome the barriers of females in STEM by removing the “Stereotype tread” and encouraging girls to pursue STEM from an early age.

Congratulations to the Women in STEM winners and candidates:

Victoria Trabysh, Andrea Howison, Elaine Choy and Molly Mersinger from Embry-Riddle;

Carolyn Visser from McMaster University

Michelle Warren from Georgia Tech

Maya Keely from Virginia Tech

Deborah Alencar de Oliveira and Rachel Hendricks from Mississippi State University,

Shaumya Jha from Ohio State University

Bethany Welty and Kayla Hamilton from University of Alabama

Bahar Kholdi-Sabeti from University of Waterloo


Thank you to the judges for this event: Magaly Soto-Arce, Manager of Early Career Programs at General Motors; Wendy Eckman, Director of Connectivity Engineering at General Motors; Sabrina Ridenour, Software Engineer and Scrum Leader at General Motors; and Connie Bezanson, Manager of Education & Outreach in the Vehicle Technologies Office at the Department of Energy.