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Aspiring knowledge: Alabama’s Vanderhagen leads team’s hardware efforts

By: Avery Tucker

All college students hope to gain real-world experience and knowledge while in college, whether it be through a co-op rotation, a specific course that focuses on real-world problems or a student competition. If it helps them work towards achieving their dreams so early in their careers, that will make it even more rewarding.

One student at The University of Alabama has done just that. Shane Vanderhagen is a junior at UAstudying Electrical Engineering and one of two selected BattScholars for Alabama.

Shane Vanderhagen

Born and raised in Melissa, Texas, Vanderhagen has always had an interest in electric vehicles and batteries. His experience with this industry includes working at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International. This role helped prepare him for the work he does now with Jaber Abu-Qahouq, The University of Alabama’s professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as an undergraduate research student for the past year.

Vanderhagen is now continuing this journey as the hardware lead for The University of Alabama’s BattChallenge team. Wanting to connect with other like-minded, driven people on campus, Vanderhagen took this role on and now leads a team of students at Alabama. He also saw this role as an opportunity to push himself beyond his limits and expand his knowledge in the industry.

“One of the biggest challenges so far has been being pushed to learn more than I already know as I am always surrounded by other leaders with so much experience to learn from,” Vanderhagen said.

Vanderhagen attended the BattChallenge fall workshop kickoff event in Alexandria, Virg. Attending the workshop made him realize how much he must learn and all the great learning opportunity this competition presents.

“Being surrounded by so many people of such a high caliber was a humbling and exciting experience,” Vanderhagen said. “The kickoff was also a fun opportunity to bond with team members and people from the other universities.”

Looking to the future of the challenge, Vanderhagen hopes to continue furthering his knowledge and skill set with vehicle battery systems. He also looks to work with the other swimlane leads and students to achieve success in the competition.

Shane Vanderhagen

When it comes to working with other students, Vanderhagen recognizes the challenges that come with collaboration, scheduling and other barriers; however, he says these obstacles are “what makes the challenge so special.”

“We have a group of students who bought into learning and bettering themselves,” Vanderhagen said. “Each of us makes sacrifices to make UA’s name known in a competitive setting while having fun along the way.”

Vanderhagen’s story shows the tremendous opportunity the BattChallenge competition provides for university students to gain experience and build expertise in this relatively new technology.

In addition to developing technical skills, these students, specifically those in leadership positions, will be developing invaluable leadership skills which will prepare them to become next-generation leaders in the automotive industry.

Members of The University of Alabama & Shelton State Community College’s Battery Workforce Challenge team.

Finally, through their involvement in the BattChallenge program, students get an opportunity to closely and collaboratively work with fellow students from diverse backgrounds and develop important interpersonal skills to be successful as part of diverse teams.

You can find out more about Vanderhagen and The University of Alabama’s team on the website or their social media pages by following BattChallengeUA on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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