Written by: Haleigh Fields, WVU Communications Manager
From West Virginia University’s EcoCAR 3 garage in Morgantown, to the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Sabrina Ridenour is driving change for women in the automotive industry while also pursuing her passion for vocal performance with the Detroit Concert Choir.
As an undergrad, Sabrina became involved with Society of Women Engineers (SWE), an organization she still serves in today. It was through her connections within SWE that she earned a summer internship with General Motors as a manufacturing engineer in Arlington, TX. Her internship with General Motors is what sparked her interest in joining the WVU EcoCAR team.
“It was an awesome experience, so when I returned to WVU, my academic advisor highly recommended I keep the relationship with GM by joining the WVU EcoCAR 3 team as my senior design capstone. I ended up serving as System Safety lead for Year 3 and then also contributed to the mechanical team when needed.”
Sabrina became a second-generation West Virginia University mechanical engineering graduate in 2017, but her attachment to West Virginia started with her grandfather who worked as a coal miner to support the family. After graduation, she entered General Motors’ Technical Rotation and Career Knowledge (TRACK). After two years through the program, Sabrina was hired into her desired role as a Controls Design Engineer for Charging Controls.
“I really love how interactive my job is with our products,” said Ridenour. “I work at the Milford Proving Grounds which has miles and miles of test tracks. With my job now, I can sit at my desk, make some changes in the Simulink model for my features, and then go flash a test vehicle with my software to test it out which is very gratifying to me.”
Ridenour has a strong passion for empowering fellow engineers and wants to pave the way for future women in STEM. With the hopes of being a senior leader within General Motors, Ridenour is going to be pursuing her master’s degree in Energy Systems Engineering at the University of Michigan. Much of her inspiration comes from her mother, who also graduated from WVU as a mechanical engineer, as well as from her GM CEO Mary Barra, who is the first female CEO of an automotive company.
In her spare time, Sabrina can be found singing professionally with the Detroit Concert Choir, hanging out with her friends and cat Mia, playing in adult leagues for both kickball and sand volleyball and working on finding the perfect banana bread recipe.
If there was one piece of advice that Sabrina could offer to current students involved with EcoCAR it would be, “do not be afraid to challenge yourself and try something new!”