M.J. Yatsko: Women in Technology @ OSU

Engineering a vehicle is not an easy task. Engineering a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a performance plug-in hybrid electric vehicle might be more difficult.

M.J. Yatsko is the team leader for Ohio State’s EcoCAR 3 team(link is external). EcoCAR 3 is a four-year advanced vehicle technology competition that challenges students across 16 universities to reengineer a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a performance hybrid vehicle that still maintains safety, speed and consumer acceptability.

We had a chance to talk to Yatsko more about her position with EcoCAR 3 and how she got involved in engineering. 

Can you describe your day-to-day position with EcoCAR?

I serve as the team leader for the OSU EcoCAR team with a focus on the hybrid controls development.  In that role on a daily basis I am managing technical and non-technical all aspects of the project with a focus on meeting our team goals for the year.  That could be anything from working with team sponsors to finalize donated parts or services or developing the control strategy for the vehicle to participating in an outreach event with the communications team.  I really enjoy the scope and variety of my job as Team Leader.

When did you decide you wanted to work in the STEM field? 

I was exposed to engineering in elementary school, but I really made the decision when I was in high school.  I had the opportunity to be a member of the Columbus School for Girls FIRST robotics team and had an internship with the EcoCAR team at Ohio State.  All of these experiences demonstrated the variety of potential career paths related to STEM.  The projects that I worked on also allowed me to get a better understanding of what engineering really is as well as how interesting solving engineering problems can be. 

What advice can you give other young female students who would like to get involved in STEM at the university and beyond? 

I would tell them to explore different possibilities within STEM to find the area they are most passionate about.  I think that I was able to make it through my engineering education here at Ohio State because I am very passionate about cars and sustainability and was able to find a project (EcoCAR) that is focused on both. 

How do you stay up-to-date with new trends in the STEM world? 

Generally I try to stay up-to-date with trends in the automotive industry at a minimum, through a number of car blogs.  More general tech news I get from the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis. 

Is there any technology that you are particularly excited about right now? If so, why? 

I am always really excited to see where the car industry is going.  I look forward to the future of connected cars and how connected cars will be used both to improve safety and vehicle efficiency.

What has been your favorite moment/experience from working with EcoCAR?

My favorite experience with EcoCAR up to this point was getting our 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and then promptly taking it entirely apart.  I am most looking forward to the end of this year when our hybrid architecture will be fully integrated into the vehicle.  Seeing the vehicle move under its own hybrid power will be a wonderful demonstration of the hard work and determination of the EcoCAR team. 

This feature blog post is part of our #OSUWomenInTech campaign. Hear more stories from female leaders involved in technology at Ohio State by following us on Twitter @TechHubOSU(link is external) and stopping in store to see our digital signage features. Are you interested in getting involved with technology? Don’t forget to check out our Student Developer Kit(link is external) and student project development grant opportunities.