Nikko Lubinski has always had a strong interest for automobiles. One of the reasons he chose to go to the University of California, Davis was for its hands-on hybrid vehicle development opportunities. He competed on the UC Davis FutureTruck team during 2003 and 2004, and its Challenge X team in 2005 and 2006.
As a FutureTruck team member, Nikko started off supporting the senior team members as they worked on battery enclosure designs, part fabrications and running data acquisition systems. He became a senior member in Challenge X and led a lot of the powertrain simulations. He also worked on a liquid battery cooling system as a part of his senior capstone project.
“My greatest memories are spending long sleepless nights in the lab working out those little bugs that were seemingly impossible to track down,” he said. “Working with such a great group of motivated students really taught me what hard work is all about – and my limit for cans of Red Bull!”
Being involved with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) helped Nikko prepare to deal with others in a non-classroom environment. “The opportunities that the student competitions provided me gave me a lot of skills that my peers did not have,” he said. “I was always amazed by the multitude of innovative ideas and self-fostered teamwork that resulted in recreating a complete fully-functioning vehicle.”
As a student at UC Davis, Nikko completed internships at Toyota and the GM/Toyota New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) facility. While interning at NUMMI, he realized that he didn’t just like to build things – he also liked to design them. Nikko landed a job with the perfect combination of building and designing at Apple.
He currently serves as a Product Design Engineer, building prototypes, refining designs and overseeing the manufacturing process in Asia.
“I love dipping my feet in a little bit of everything,” he said. “Following a product from initial conception all the way through to manufacturing hundreds of thousands of devices a day is quite exhilarating.”
Nikko said he is proud to have been a part of the AVTC program because it provides an outlet for students looking to apply their engineering knowledge.
“The acceptability of alternative energy vehicles has grown leaps and bounds compared to the environment when I was involved with the competitions, and I think the contributions from AVTC events and alumni is spread throughout the industry.”