The most challenging aspect of mechanical engineering student Kaylie Crosby’s daily routine might seem surprising. It’s not a particularly hard engineering course or spending many solitary hours studying for a test. It’s maintaining clear and constant communication with over 130 students at the University of Alabama, across multiple disciplines.
Driving a new, fresh off the production line Chevrolet Camaro around the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport might have been one of the best parts of her job though, so it seems like a fair trade.
Kaylie is the project manager for the University of Alabama’s team in the EcoCAR 3 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition. The four-year competition, which is sponsored by the US Department of Energy and General Motors, challenges students at 16 universities to redesign and rebuild a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. The teams must make the car more fuel-efficient and reduce environmental impact without compromising performance or consumer standards.
Kaylie was recruited for the position by one of her professors in the STEM Path to the MBA program, which allows students to earn a BS in mechanical engineering and an MBA in five years. Her professor noticed her stellar academic record, organizational skills, and above all, her ability to work well with her peers—treating them with respect while also encouraging them to produce their best work—and knew she was the right person for the job.
That professor made a wise choice: Under Kaylie’s leadership, the UA EcoCAR 3 team racked up several organization awards in the competition’s first year, including Best Media Relations Report, Most Creative Outreach Event, Best Outreach Presentation and Team to Watch. Kaylie herself received the Excellence in Leadership Award.
Kaylie has also earned recognition from the group that manages the program, Argonne National Laboratory. Kristen De La Rosa of Argonne nominated Kaylie for 30 Under 30, describing her as a confident and charismatic leader.
“Have a short conversation with Crosby,” says De La Rosa, “and you’ll quickly realize she is wise beyond her years with a rare mix of ambition, engineering know-how, leadership qualities and work ethic that all but guarantee she’ll be successful in her career.”
The EcoCAR competition is in its second year, but Kaylie graduates this year with her MBA and will pursue project management with a job in Washington, DC. Those who nominated her say she’s done an excellent job of preparing the next generation to assume leadership roles within the team.
That’s because for Kaylie, being an ambassador for engineering for the next generation is essential. As part of the community outreach portion of the competition, the team goes to a local middle school once a month, on a Saturday, to do STEM activities with the kids and talk to them a little about what they do as engineers working on the EcoCAR.
Kaylie is also a member of the MentorUPP program at UA, acting as a guide to younger students in the engineering program, and she has previously volunteered with Engineers Without Borders and as a fourth grade math tutor.
She offered advice for any aspiring engineers. “I would encourage them not to stop,” she said, “Anything worth doing is going to be difficult.”
This article was first published in the July 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read all of the 2016 30 Under 30 Profiles as a PDF.