Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC’s) Team Tennessee alumna, Jessica Boles, participated in the EcoCAR 3 series during Year 1 as her senior design project. After graduating with her masters, Jessica interned with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is pursing her Ph.D. in power electronics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Now in her first year of her Ph.D., Boles is conducting research in the design of DC-DC converters that connect the high voltage battery pack to the low voltage bus of an Electric Vehicle (EV) or Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). She and her colleagues’ goal is “to reduce the size of these converters without sacrificing performance so that they take up less space in the vehicle itself.” Jessica was even granted the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship for her studies.
Looking back to her time on team Tennessee, Jessica says, “EcoCAR 3 gave me the opportunity to directly apply concepts from the courses I was taking right as I was learning them.” She was recruited by Dr. Costinett, the team Tennessee electrical faculty advisor, to serve on the electrical team for her senior design project. Jessica went on to become the electrical team lead where she led the design and prototype of a DC-DC converter, which is much like the one in the Camaro now. Her role on EcoCAR 3 lead her to pursue her Ph.D. in power electronics.
During her time at the University of Tennessee, Jessica interned with EcoCAR 3 competition sponsor, Siemens. While on Team Tennessee, Jessica received the General Motors Outstanding Woman in Engineering Award, the University of Tennessee Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Leadership Award, and founded the WomEngineers Day on the university’s campus. Through her efforts to connect and encourage women in engineering, Jessica has truly impacted the community.
Aubrey Casey, a current member of the EcoCAR 3 team, describes how Jessica helped her find a career path suited for her. Aubrey began college majoring in Biology, then she met Jessica through the university’s club tennis team. Aubrey says, “I made what has to be the most terrifying and ultimately the best decision of my life this far, and switched to the College of Engineering. I wouldn’t have been able to make that momentous change without Jessica’s support and faith. Her passion for her work and her radiant positivity for the field of engineering, and most distinctly, for integrating women into engineering has positively impacted my career and countless other students’ paths. Jessica’s story epitomizes the potential and opportunity the field of Engineering has, and not just for the chosen few, but for anyone who has the courage to try.”
Today, Jessica continues to be passionate about her education in power electronics and recruiting women to engineering. She left a lasting impact on team Tennessee and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.