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In·no·va·tion (inəˈvāSH(ə)n): The action or process of innovating

Electrical systems team lead Kerri Loyd (left) presented Kamryn Russell (right) with the EcoCAR Women of Excellence Award.No matter what major we pursue or which path we take in life, the action or process of innovating is a concept we’ll all face. For Kamryn Russell, a second-year mechanical engineering student at The Ohio State University, she chose to look at innovation head-on by joining the EcoCAR and working alongside fellow engineers. I had the opportunity to speak with Russell about her experiences and why she brings a unique perspective to the team.

The sophomore recently earned the Ohio State EcoCAR Women of Excellence Award, a testament to her passion for the automotive industry and commitment to the propulsion systems integration team. While the majority of her projects this year empowered her to work with computer-aided design to update the design mechanical systems for the new vehicle, she is equipped to handle any challenge that comes her way.

Inspired to take the leap

When asked why she wanted to join the EcoCAR team, Russell noted that gaining experience in the automotive industry and pushing the limits in engineering were key factors she was searching for. When it comes to expanding her engineering knowledge, Russell shared that she turns to the mechanical team lead, Phillip Dalke, as her mentor and biggest influence throughout the experience.

Trials and tribulations

While EcoCAR is built on the foundation of learning and embracing creative minds, that is not to say that it comes without challenge—as a woman in a male-dominated industry, Russell is no stranger to these challenges. However, she puts a positive spin on being a female in an environment saturated with males and believes that it is the key to bringing a new, fresh perspective to the automotive and manufacturing industry.

Russell says the EcoCAR team works efficiently as a unit to work through conflicts. She explained that she feels the most challenging aspect of EcoCAR is when problems arise while working with NX, a software program. When hurdles arise, she takes it upon herself to research solutions online or turn to her teammates for insight.

Diversity as a “driving factor” for the EcoCAR team

While it may seem that a group of students from diverse backgrounds might clash more than they collaborate, the EcoCAR team shares a mutual set of values that keeps spirits high and ideas flowing—teamwork, innovation and dedication are a few of the top standards by which the team operates. Russell shared that the diverse backgrounds of her EcoCAR peers are a strength for the team and often helps to shed light on authentic viewpoints.

Overall, Russell attributes some of her personal growth to the EcoCAR experience. Her persistence and ability to collaborate in difficult situations are few of the many skills she feels have been sharpened throughout the process, and while the EcoCAR team has a long road ahead, Kamryn is confident she will continue to learn something new every day.

Aly DeShields is a senior majoring in strategic communication with a minor in business. Upon her graduation in May 2019, she hopes to pursue a career in public relations that pushes her beyond the creative limits every day. Between academics, internships, and working as a member of The PRactice, Aly frequently spends her time creating playlists on Spotify, browsing the newest influencers on Instagram, and talking about the latest news with her friends.