Where Are They Now this week highlights Mel Corrigan (previously Mel Fox), a Penn State and Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) alum who has spent her impressive academic career focused on Fuel Science research which ultimately led to her current position working on one of the most exciting innovations in vehicle technology.
Mel Corrigan began her undergraduate studies in chemical engineering at Penn State-Altoona. Throughout her time at Altoona, she participated in the Society for Automotive Engineering Mini Baja competition. During her junior year, she moved to the Penn State-University Park campus, where she became involved in undergraduate research studies focusing on diesel exhaust aftertreatment.
While studying at Penn State, Mel interned at Toyota Motor Mfg. in Georgetown, Kentucky in their Facilities Controls Engineering department where she compiled weekly utility consumption reports for the nine plants at the facility. At that time, Mel also took part in the Energy Team, examining methods of improving energy consumption for vehicle manufacturing processes.
In 2002, Mel obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at Wayne State University where she worked in an engine lab studying diesel combustion, She also participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) project to create safety-related exercises for chemical engineering textbooks.
Mel entered graduate school at Penn State in 2003, starting with a Master’s of Science in Fuel Science. Her research focused on performing three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics of combustion in a coal-fired boiler.
After completing her Master’s degree, Mel decided to continue her studies and obtain her Ph. D. in Fuel Science. She shifted gears in her research, moving from modeling to experiments and then began studying the effects of intake-induced turbulence on the combustion characteristics of hydrogen assisted natural gas combustion in a spark-ignition engine.
Mel became involved with the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Technologies team during Challenge X. During her graduate studies, Mel received a two-year fellowship that required her to do weekly science outreach in K-12 classrooms. This program, GREATT (Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technologies), soon lead her to become the controls team leader for Penn State team in Year Two and the overall team leader during Year Three.
After completing a twelve-week internship in the Powertrain Systems Research group at General Motors during which she lead a project sampling and characterizing particulate matter from diesel combustion, Mel landed her first job with GM.
Mel now works as a Battery System Integration Engineer for the Chevy Volt. She continues to support advanced vehicle technology competitions and acts as a judge for EcoCAR at workshops and competitions. EcoCAR is not only thrilled to utilize Mel’s professional expertise, but also grateful to have her perspective as a former competitor as EcoCAR ushers in Year Three.