Where Are They Now: Chris Carde

As EcoCAR 2 gears up for its first workshop, we’re restarting the tradition of “Where Are They Now?” Wednesdays here at Inside the Green Garage. On upcoming Wednesdays we’ll post blogs about alumni of past Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs), including EcoCAR, FutureTruck, and Challenge X. In these posts, readers will learn what alumni are up to now, and how vehicle design competitions have helped shape their lives.

The first “Where Are They Now” delves into the career of Chris Carde, whose automotive savvy and networking skills landed him his first job at Mercedes. His team was the first to develop iPod adapters and iPhone integration at Mercedes. Today, he works at one of the most recognized companies in the world: Google.

Despite his impressive track record, Chris Carde, Automotive Technical Program Manager at Google Germany, attributes his successful career to his experience in FutureTruck, an AVTC that ran from 2000-2004.

The UC-Davis FutureTruck

As a high school student, Carde never pictured himself working in the automotive industry. He spent his high school years toying with software and electronics and says going to engineering school seemed like a natural decision.  At the University of California- Davis, Carde joined FutureTruck during his last year as an undergraduate student. He describes the experience as ‘summercamp for engineering students’ and loved it so much, he continued his participation for the following four years by entering graduate school there.

“It was a chance to practice your sport and be as extreme and productive possible, even pull off hero-like miracles,” Carde said. “And you have an entire team around you that is equally dedicated and excited.”

At times his team struggled, shipping in unfinished vehicles months off schedule. Still, the team scrambled to successful finishes, earning first place in the competition in 2001.  Carde attributes his experience with FutureTruck to his successful career path.

“There’s no question that my time in FutureTruck is directly responsible for getting my job at Mercedes,” he said.

Chris "embraces" smartphone technology

The knowledge he picked up, from building cars in an OEM capacity, to publishing SAE papers, helped prepare him for the industry. Through networking, he was referred to Daimler Chrysler Research, which eventually became Mercedes. Carde and his team developed iPhone integration for Mercedes vehicles by combining a cradle and phone application, avoiding the costly installation of a head unit.

Spending periods of six months at a time in Germany with Mercedes eventually led Carde to his current job at Google Germany. Working for the world’s number one search engine gives Carde access to all the information he could possibly need, but taking it all in is a challenge.

“Starting at Google is kind of like drinking from a fire hose,” he said. But as an expert in the auto industry, Carde is right at home working with Google’s automotive partners and helping implement Google products and services into cars. For example, users can search for a location using Google Maps and send it to their vehicle, without having to enter the desired location directly into the car.

Cars aren’t Carde’s only interest. When he has the time, he loves flying.

“My new routine is every time I go to the U.S. for a business trip, I hop off a big plane into a small plane,” he said.

Chris Carde is just one of many AVTC alumni that have gone on to do exciting things in the automotive and engineering fields. We can’t wait to see what challenge Chris tackles next!