It’s National Engineer’s Week in the U.S. It’s a time to honor past, current and future engineers. So meet future automotive engineer Jon Nibert. Jon was always pretty sure he wanted to be an engineer. Like many of you, he was a kid who liked to take things apart.
Jon attends the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The school’s athletic teams are named the “Fighting Engineers”, so it’s no surprise that Jon likes a challenge and doesn’t accept the idea that something can’t be done.
Jon has a bachelor’s of science in Computer Engineering and plans to graduate next year with a master’s of science in Engineering Management. In the meantime he runs the EcoCAR program at Rose-Hulman.
Rose-Hulman is one of 15 schools participating in the EcoCAR2 three-year collegiate engineering competition. The goal is to reduce fuel consumption, well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe emissions all while maintaining performance, utility and safety. That picture above was taken at the EcoCAR winter workshop a few weeks ago in Austin, TX.
“It’s great to work on a real-world product,” says Jon. “There isn’t one right answer. There is no textbook. The professor doesn’t have the answers. It’s extremely collaborative and challenging.”
Here is a picture of Rose-Hulman’s EcoCAR2 architecture, designated "split-parallel plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV)." These images were generated using NX by their chief mechanical engineer, Kyle Mason.
The team uses NX as their primary CAD software. When I asked Jon what feature he uses the most, he said “We just keep trying new features. We dig in and find things. The sheer power is wonderful. We want to leverage more built-in functionality like FEA solvers. The constraint-based approach is wonderful to make sure parts are designed properly. It’s nice to have one tool that can do all the work vs. a whole suite. It’s also great to learn NX now since it is such an industry standard.”
Rose-Hulman is also deploying Teamcenter to serve as a centralized hub so that everyone can see what they need to see.
The EcoCAR program spurred Jon’s interest in automotive design and manufacturing. “Before entering the program, I hadn’t considered automotive. But what I’m doing now I’d love to stay doing professionally. There are a lot of technical challenges and rewards in advanced technology. There really isn’t a right answer. You have to take a systems-level approach. Draw yourself out of your comfort zone to see the bigger picture so you can understand what’s affecting outcomes.
Jon draws himself out of his comfort zone in another interesting area – theatre. It’s his favorite hobby since he’s a nice blend of creative and design. He likes to see the audience walk away after enjoying a play, including the set and lighting he’s helped design. I imagine in his future he’ll enjoy watching people drive vehicles he’s helped engineer.
I liked Jon’s interesting fact about himself stated on the roseecocar2 blog: “much like Chuck Norris, his awesome power comes from his beard of manliness and wonder.”
When I asked Jon how we encourage more kids and students to pursue engineering degrees, he noted:
“We need to overcome the smart kid view of engineering. Engineering is not only for smart kids, it’s for anyone who wants it. It has to be a passion and something you enjoy. The grades will follow.”