Daryl Green, 2008 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund recipient, has already received design patents for several product designs at Retro USA. His advice for students seeking a career in the auto industry: Be honest with yourself regarding skills and narrow your choices based on what you like doing.
Through the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund (SMSF), the association helps prepare the next generation of the automotive workforce for today's competitive market through financial assistance for students attending various universities, colleges, and/or vocational schools in the United States. In fact, the fund has yielded more than $1.5 million in scholarships since 1984.
While the deadline to submit applications for the 2012 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund has passed, the association continues to catch up with past scholarship recipients to see what is happening in their burgeoning automotive careers. SEMA's Education Institute (SEI) recently interviewed 2008 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund recipient Daryl Green, who is currently working at Retro USA as a design engineer.
Green shared some details about his current position, which includes receiving design patents for several of Retro USA's products, and provided his plans for future education and offered advice for students who may be beginning their careers in the auto industry.
"Working in the automotive industry has been a tremendous experience. The opportunities are endless, and you get to work with great people who share the same passions for cars as you do," said Green. "I am looking forward to continuing to be a part of this industry."
Here are some more of Green's thoughts on the industry, opportunities for students and where he received his inspiration.
SEMA Education Institute: What influences in your childhood led you to pursue an education in Automotive Engineering Technology?
Daryl Green: My father has to be the most substantial influence on me pursuing a career in this field. My father had a small collection of classic cars, and he had a ’64 Dodge that he drag raced. I spent many weekends as a child at car shows and at the drag strip. I developed a strong passion for cars early in my life. As I grew, so did my passion for cars. For my first job, I was a general technician at a local tire shop. When I was 16, I began drag racing my first car, which was a ’00 Camaro. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the automotive industry, but I wasn't sure where to start. After looking at several schools specializing in different areas of the automotive field, I discovered the Automotive Engineering Technology program at Minnesota State University – Mankato. The program offered courses covering everything from automotive repair to engine thermodynamics to chassis design. The course also included key topics such as CAD design, technical communication and computer programming, all of which are essential for a career in this industry.
SEMA Education Institute: We understand that you received design patents and several awards, including those from SEMA. What were the design patents and awards for? What were the SEMA awards for?
Daryl Green: I've received design patents for several of our products. Our products are very unique from both a design and styling aspect. We have received two awards from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). The first award we received was the gold award in Heavy Gauge Thermoforming, which is the process we use to manufacture our Chrome-Tech Bumpers. Our most prestigious award was the 2010 Automotive Innovation Award. The award was presented to us for the most innovative use of plastics in the Performance and Customization category. Being a start-up company and being new to the industry myself, made this award special. In 2010 we received a SEMA global media award. We were also proud to be part of the SEMA Award for Hottest Car, which has been awarded to the Camaro the past two years. Our Camaro products have always been well represented at the SEMA Show.
SEMA Education Institute: What are you currently working on now at Retro USA?
Daryl Green: We are always working to improve the products that we offer. Since we are using fairly new manufacturing processes, we are always breaking new ground by finding new methods to improve quality and efficiency. We are also exploring designs for other vehicles to expand our product line. We are currently developing designs for the ’10–’12 Mustangs, as well as designs for the new ’13 Mustang.
SEMA Education Institute: Do you plan to continue your higher education?
Daryl Green: Since graduating college I have taken several classes for CAD design. CAD design is the focus of my work here at Retro USA, and I am always looking to improve the skills that I learned in college. I also plan to take classes to learn new skills that would be beneficial to my work. I'm a big believer in self-education and am always looking for new books and other material to dive into. You should never underestimate what you can teach yourself. When you work for a small company, you are tasked in all areas of the business and continuing education is essential.
SEMA Education Institute: What advice would you give to a student applying for scholarships now?
Daryl Green: I would tell students to take advantage of all of the education opportunities that your school has to offer. These opportunities may be elective classes, clubs, or projects that your school is involved in. Spend time with your instructors and professors. They always have more to offer you than what's taught in the classroom alone. Also, if your school is involved in any of the SAE projects, such as Formula, Baja or Snowmobile, I would strongly recommend that you join. The SAE projects offer a tremendous amount of education and experience. Employers in the automotive industry actively will seek out students involved in SAE programs.
SEMA Education Institute: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to pursue an education/career in the automotive industry?
Daryl Green: If you are looking to pursue a career in the automotive field, you will most likely find yourself thinking as I did, "Where do I start?" There are a variety of different fields that you can pursue, such as automotive repair, engineering, sales and media. Ask yourself what your skills are and what you enjoy doing. Once you have narrowed your sights on a possible field, find an employer or someone who works in that field. They can give you the best insight on what education and experience you are expected to have. I recommend that current and future students take time to visit the SEMA Show. The Show is a great place to see what the industry is all about and a good place to meet people in the industry.