Mechanical Engineering student Alex Koch was introduced to the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team by one of his peers, who told him about a new sport utility vehicle that didn’t use any gasoline and emitted only water out of its tailpipe. “I had to check it out for myself at the garage, and once I started chasing down my first wire, I guess I never stopped,” he said. “I had to learn how every part of the powertrain worked.”
Alex competed in the Challenge X and EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge competitions. He served as a valuable team member and Mechanical Lead in Challenge X during his undergrad at the University of Waterloo, and as the Team Captain for EcoCAR during his graduate program.
Alex said his favorite moment was during his second year of EcoCAR in Yuma.
“We just completed our first successful hydrogen fill, and as this was reported back to the organizers room we could hear the room erupt in a cheer over the radio. There was a lot of blood and sweat from the whole team to get to that point,” he said. “It also goes to show just how much everyone involved in the competition cares about seeing teams and students succeed.”
With two AVTCs and both a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from University of Waterloo, Alex was more than prepared for the real world.
“The knowledge I gained through AVTCs let me walk directly out of school into a seasoned workforce without any additional training,” he said. “It’s like having another degree all on its own. The leadership and teamwork habits follow me through every project, and my communication and presentation skills are used on a daily basis.”
Alex currently serves as controls and simulation engineer at CrossChasm Technologies – an AVTC-graduate born business – where he works on just about any moving object requiring the learning of new systems, software and powertrains. He is also a product developer for FleetCarma, working with systems that monitor energy and emission data from all vehicles, including new plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
“To be able to take part in designing these new vehicles, and now help in the adoption of the vehicles in the marketplace, is pretty exciting,” he said.
Alex said that participating in AVTCs makes you more desirable to future employers. “The requirements of the competition are constantly updated to keep pace with industry, and they create highly effective graduates in the workforce.
“AVTCs have, without a doubt, changed my life for the better,” he said. “The friendships and memories will be cherished for a long time.”