Women Engineers Shaping Future of Auto Tech at GM

CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, believes that the automotive industry, which has historically been male-dominated, will undergo bigger changes in the next ten years than it has in the past fifty. Many of the latest technological advances are being made by female engineers, and it seems this trend is likely to continue. In a recent press release, GM highlights three women who are the driving force behind vital new technology such as infotainment systems, software, electric vehicles and vehicle to vehicle communication.

Electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, Spark EV, and the Cadillac ELR as well as a battery powered car based on the Bolt, are part of GM’s goal of 500,000 electrified vehicles manufactured per year globally. Trista Schieffer is the Lead Development Engineer for Battery Electric Vehicles. Although gas-powered cars are still the most popular, electric vehicles are becoming more mainstream. Schieffer says, “I love problem solving. I collaborate with people to deliver efficient solutions to solve ride, handling, noise, vibration, comfort, storage, heating, cooling, safety, energy efficiency—all aspects of a vehicle. Together we make sure the parts and systems are integrated so the vehicle performs in the manner our customers anticipate. As vehicles rely less and less on traditional fuel systems—or, in certain cases, not at all—we face new challenges.”

Infotainment Product Owner, Rebecca Roth, works on connectivity software development, allowing occupants of a car to do anything they can do outside a car, inside a car. She’s also helped develop Smart Grid, a communication system that works between the electric company and the owner to target charging times that are both convenient and less costly. “We’re developing software to make everything simpler and greener. As a coder, I love it when software can make a person’s life easier and make the world a better place,” says Roth.

Vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communication is a new technology that will help avoid traffic snarls and collisions. The 2017 Cadillac CTS is expected to be the first U.S. vehicle to come equipped with V2V. Jessica Moreno is Program Manager, V2V Security Credential Management, and is helping make this a reality. Her team is working on safety and security of drivers and passengers when using V2V. Moreno says, “The software that we’re developing helps certify that a vehicle is a trusted and reliable source of information, thereby allowing it to communicate with other vehicles on the road.” She added, “I have two small children, and vehicle safety is extremely important to me.”

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