This week’s Mentor Monday post features Chris Fillyaw, an application engineer specializing in control design and automation, at The MathWorks’ office in Michigan. Chris’ work with the EcoCAR student teams stems from a personal hobby and passion: drag racing! 

Chris Fillyaw talking shop with an EcoCAR student

“In both EcoCAR and drag racing, the winners are determined by what the sponsors and judges see at competition.  The real work, however – the learning, the team bonding and the commitment to achieve your best – comes behind the scenes in the design and preparation stages,” said Chris.

In both activities you are given a set of rules and you must be creative and think outside of the box to get ahead in competition.  How you tackle the race course is up to you.

“Continued analysis and refinement of designs can go a long way.  If you don’t meet your goals on the first try you might think the design is inadequate. You shouldn’t give up and go in a completely different direction, but rather re-evaluate your game plan: ‘What didn’t work the way you thought?  Why? What can be improved,?’ said Chris.

Of course, lessons learned on the race course have come in handy for Chris during the EcoCAR competition – it was a great way for him to prepare for the F1 racing event during the MathWorks training workshop!