Students Bond with Toyota Representatives During Campus Events

  • Former student Latisha Leverette (right) speaks with Toyota representative Kayla Sullivan about employment opportunities during Ask an Engineer on April 5 underneath the Trellis.

UT Dallas students in early April learned about the latest engineering technology and future employment opportunities from one of the University’s newest corporate neighbors, Toyota.

The two-part event began with about 75 students gathered under the Trellis to hear senior engineer Jackie Birdsall describe the technology used in the Mirai, Toyota’s new hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. The all-electric car uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, runs on hydrogen and produces no carbon emissions.

UT Dallas students in engineering and information technology and systems showed off their technical expertise during the 30-minute Q-and-A session by asking specific questions about the energy used to combine hydrogen and oxygen during the vehicle’s chemical reaction process, how the car handles freezing temperatures and what voltage it runs on. 

They also had the opportunity to drive and ride in the Mirai, which is not yet available in Texas.

Toyota recruiters answered questions about job openings, too. Kayla Sullivan, from Toyota’s human resources department, said the auto company is posting about 10 jobs a day, adding that she had spoken with students majoring in marketing, engineering and information technology and systems.

Fanuel Zekiros, an information technology and systems senior in the Naveen Jindal School of Management who attended the Q-and-A, has already lined up a job with Toyota. He completed an internship with the automaker last summer, working on consumer portal delivery projects, which led to a job offer.

During a panel discussion in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building Lecture Hall, Simon Nagata, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Toyota Motor North America, acknowledged the caliber of academic excellence at UT Dallas that he said he hopes will produce a steady pipeline of job applicants for the global automaker.

“We hope to build a deep and meaningful partnership with you. That’s why we are here at UT Dallas,” Nagata said.

Cheryl Hughes, group vice president for corporate resources, said the automaker looks for certain skill sets among applicants, including understanding data science “to help create algorithms for personalized experiences in cars” and cybersecurity to protect corporate interests. Hughes said students also should not neglect the “softer skills” needed for management and leadership roles.

The global automaker announced last spring that it was moving its North American headquarters to a development in Plano that is about 10 miles northwest of UT Dallas.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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