When Aaron Sullivan was a kid, he spent time reading Car and Driver while his parents prepared lessons for English courses. While he always had an interest in cars, he didn’t always know how they were designed and built.
Aaron’s first major experience with vehicle design and engineering was during his participation as a graduate student in FutureTruck, and was encouraged to enter the competition by his faculty advisor at the University of Wisconsin. He served as the controls team lead and was offered a position to work for General Motors through the professional connections he made during the competition.
“My first job was a really excellent and challenging position that was very similar to the work I did for FutureTruck,” says Sullivan, now the lead development engineer for a GM future hybrid electric vehicle program.
Even after his hire at GM, Sullivan wanted to remain involved with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs), so he started mentoring teams and went on to become the GM Vehicle Technical Lead during EcoCAR: The Next Challenge.
“I think the competition always has a special place in your heart just because you put so much effort into it,” he says.
He now serves as a vehicle lead for the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) for GM, which coordinates EcoCAR 2: Plugging In To The Future and serves as vital support throughout the three-year competition. TSC members are in direct contact with teams and help students find subject matter experts based on their needs. His continued involvement in the competition even carries over into his work at GM.
“The enthusiasm the students have is infectious, so getting to work with them just brightens your day and helps you bring that same type of enthusiasm back to work,” Sullivan says.
Much like in the competition, today Sullivan gets to see through the entire process of vehicle development, but with the added pleasure of ensuring that customers will love the final product.