Reflections from an EcoCAR alumna
M.J. Yatsko first discovered The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR) during an internship while she was a student at Columbus School for Girls. She enjoyed her high school internship experience so much that she went on to receive both her bachelor’s and master's degrees from Ohio State in mechanical engineering. Now, she is an energy architecture lead on electric vehicles at General Motors (GM).
Her high school internship was where Yatsko was first exposed to Ohio State’s EcoCAR team. She was a member of from 2010 to 2016 and a team lead for two of those years, during which EcoCAR had great success. Yatsko said she wanted to get involved with something that was related to both engineering and caring about the environment. Being on the EcoCAR team and working on a hybrid electric vehicle was the perfect combination of the two.
Following in Yatsko’s footsteps, her younger sister joined the team in 2015 and became the project manager the following year. Yatsko attributes their shared interest in cars to their father, who is a car salesman.
At GM, she works with advanced programs to balance the range and performance requirements that electric vehicles need to meet.
“I love working on the early advanced side of development because you really get to shape what the vehicle will be,” she said.
Yatsko works with other Ohio State EcoCAR alumni, as well as EcoCAR alumni from other schools.
“I’m actually really good friends with people from other schools, and it’s fun to have that camaraderie between us.” She is also a member of a leadership book club led by an Ohio State EcoCAR alumni.
Yatsko explained the value of her time on the EcoCAR team and how it was helpful in her transition to GM. In addition to the obvious technical skills she learned, she also gained valuable presentation skills. During competition, EcoCAR team members are graded on technical presentations.
“I get comments all the time about how well I’m able to deliver technical information to different audiences and I think, ‘That’s all EcoCAR.’ You figure out who your audience is and then you describe this really complicated concept,” she said.
“The job I have now is very much related to the modeling, simulation and controls work I did on EcoCAR. It gave me confidence in my ability to transition to the work I do now at GM. The connection between EcoCAR and GM is very clear to me.”
by Cassie Forsha, writing intern at Center for Automotive Research