Jun 12, 2020

Driving Towards the Future - Starting a New Club at Tuck

By Sammer Richi T’21

“Wow! Bryan, Doug, this was great. This was absolutely awesome!” Professor Ramon Lecuona wrapped our first-ever Future of Automotive Mobility Club event, thanking our guest speakers for their time and for the incredibly lively discussion. The Zoom chat and GroupMe was blowing up with thank yous and “great talk!” It was crazy to think that several months prior, our club was just a bunch of ideas on a PowerPoint slide.

Starting the Engine

As we wrap our first year at Tuck, I’ve been reflecting on the incredible experience I’ve shared with my fellow T’21s. A clear highlight has been founding Tuck’s newest career-focused club, the Future of Automotive Mobility (FAM) Club. The “automotive” part is easy enough. But what about “Future of Mobility”? According to Deloitte, the future of mobility means “frictionless, automated, personalized travel on demand.” Simply put, this encompasses the radical new technologies that will transport us from A to B in the not too distant future. This includes autonomous vehicles, aerial ride-sharing, and micro-mobility, as well as all the technologies linking them together.

Just recently, I dug up my application to Tuck and found what I wrote for the “Career Goals” section. Without any paraphrasing: “Automobiles have always been my passion, and I identify with the strong connection people build with their cars … The mobility industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, creating an environment that cultivates learning and growth. I believe it is the perfect opportunity to align personal passions with professional goals.”

Sounds reasonable enough.

What I did not realize at the time was that I would find Tuckies with ambitions similar to my own. I was fortunate enough to meet Sarthak Vaish and Saachi Shah, both T’21s, early on in Fall A*. Sarthak and Saachi both had automotive experience before coming to Tuck, and we found that we are all interested in pursuing careers in the industry after graduation. We also noticed Tuck was missing a club aligned to the mobility industry. And so, began our journey to creating the Future of Mobility Club. Along the way, we learned two of our classmates, Ben Simon T‘21 and Stephen Wittmann T‘21, were seeking to tap into their passion for the automotive industry, mainly Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or rather, traditional automakers like Ford, GM, Porsche, and BMW. We collectively decided to merge our ideas into what is now known as the Tuck Future of Automotive Mobility Club.

The momentum didn’t stop there. Once we formed our core group, we started socializing our idea to form the club with the wider Tuck Community. We met with students, faculty, alumni, and Tuck’s Industry Centers to share our ideas behind the club and gather feedback, ideas, and support for future events. From faculty car enthusiasts, like the aforementioned Professor Ramon Lecuona, to students interested in learning more about self-driving cars, the excitement we met with was palpable. The Revers Center, in particular, has been incredibly helpful in marketing our club to the Tuck Community, providing logistical support, and introducing us to members of the wider Dartmouth community that are passionate about what our club is pursuing. Leveraging all the knowledge, people, and ideas we had pulled together, Saachi, Ben, Sarthak, Stephen, and I pitched our club proposal to Tuck’s Student Board in February of 2020. A few days later, we were given the green light to start the Future of Automotive Mobility Club.

Having All the Right Parts

Our club is built around three “pillars”: learning, career, and events. Each pillar is designed to help our fellow students learn about, interact with, and hopefully gain employment in the automotive and mobility industries. The learning pillar focuses on educating Tuckies about the automotive industry and about revolutionary new technologies, such as self-driving cars, through a series of talks created and led by our team of co-chairs. These will be interactive sessions with the aim of providing insight into key industry topics to help Tuck students get exposure to automotive mobility and build the right set of knowledge to aid in networking, interviews, and more. In addition to learning series, our club will help in sourcing First-Year Project opportunities. This year, our club sourced an FYP with Agero, a white-label digital roadside assistance network. The FYP was a great success and led to Agero seeking to hire a Tuck intern to take the FYP project recommendation forward.

The career pillar seeks to provide Tuckies with the resources to find an internship or full-time opportunity in the automotive and mobility industries. Career Services already does a great job sourcing internships and full-time opportunities from the likes of Waymo, Uber, Via, and more. We plan to leverage Tuck’s network and our own professional experience to source additional opportunities at unique industry start-ups and other nascent players. Furthermore, our club is planning two sets of career treks (once it is safe to travel!). The first trek will be focused on mobility technology and will take Tuckies out to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet with established tech companies and start-ups alike. The second trek will be OEM focused and will provide the opportunity to interact with many traditional automakers with manufacturing facilities in the U.S., including Ford, GM, Porsche, BMW, Toyota, Tesla, and more. As the mobility industry undergoes an epochal transformation, our hope is to empower Tuckies to join the fray and help lead the future of automotive technology.

Finally, our events pillar is focused on allowing Tuck students to interact with industry leaders directly. With support from the Revers Center for Energy, we plan to host panel events with speakers from all parts of the industry, including automotive, energy, insurance, technology, research, and more. Through such events, we seek to excite our classmates about the fascinating topics the industry is focused on and hopefully encourage a few to pursue careers in automotive. In the past, Tuck has hosted a case competition sponsored by Tesla. We hope to bring that back. Additionally, we wouldn’t be true to our roots if we did not tap into the passion that fuels automotive culture. Our events will also include trips to the New York International Auto Show, “cars and coffee” meetups, and even a classic car exhibition on Tuck’s campus.

Getting a Flying Start

In May, with the FAM Club now official, we turned our sights on hosting our first-ever club event. Two of our co-chairs, Saachi Shah and Ben Simon, did a spectacular job pulling together our first-ever industry panel event. On May 8th, the FAM Club was joined by Bryan Reimer, a researcher at MIT, and Doug DeMuro, a famous YouTuber and automotive journalist. The discussion was moderated by Tuck’s own Professor Ramon Lecuona and focused on what the future holds in store for autonomous vehicles, and we can expect as consumers. With sponsorship support from The Revers Center for Energy, we had 114 participants join the virtual panel, and the conversation was high-energy, fun, and incredibly engaging. Bryan and Doug had a lot of great insight to share with our group, and we received a ton of great feedback from the Tuck community. Hats off to Ben and Saachi for putting on a great event. Talk about a strong start!

Looking to the Road Ahead

Our team is excited to continue providing opportunities for the Tuck community to learn about and engage with the automotive and mobility industry. As we think about next year and welcoming a new class of Tuckies, we look forward to putting on more great events and providing opportunities to help build the next generation of leaders building the future of automotive mobility.

*As of academic year 2021 – 2022, “Fall A” is now termed Summer Term and “Fall B” is termed Fall Term.

Sammer Richi is a T’21 who worked for Deloitte Consulting and General Electric prior to coming to Tuck. He is the co-founder of the Future of Automotive Mobility Club at Tuck and will be interning with Google this summer.