Reflections from an EcoCAR alumna

Posted: June 6, 2023
M.J. Yatsko

M.J. Yatsko was first exposed to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) during a high school internship as a student at Columbus School for Girls (CSG). She enjoyed her 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.

Her high school internship was where Yatsko was first exposed to Ohio State’s EcoCAR team, which 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 says she wanted to go into 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 those two things.

Following in Yatsko’s footsteps, her younger sister joined the team in 2015 and became the project manager the following year. Yatsko attributes her interest in cars to her father, who is a car salesman. This exposed her and her sister to cars from a young age.

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 says. Yatsko works with other Ohio State EcoCAR alumni, as well as EcoCAR alumni from other schools. She says, “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 run by an Ohio State EcoCAR alumni.

MJ with EcoCAR

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 learned valuable presentation skills. At competition, EcoCAR team members are graded on technical presentations. Yatsko says, “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 says, “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.”

Written by CAR Writing Intern, Cassie Forsha

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