While studying mechanical engineering at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, Matthew Brownridge had the opportunity to join the university’s Formula SAE team — part of a design competition organized by SAE International that challenges students to develop a small Formula-style race car. A car lover, Matthew could not pass up the opportunity; so, he jumped right in. His experience on the team deepened that passion and steered him toward the Mechatronics and Automotive Systems specialization in his final year of his bachelor’s degree. Though an enjoyable experience, his specialization could only take him so far–Mathew realized that he needed to pursue a graduate degree in order to dig deeper into the topic.
After graduating from Concordia, Matthew was employed full-time as an engineer at BMW. This meant that he needed a flexible option in order to further his education. An online search led him to the University of Michigan (U-M), where he realized he could earn his Master of Engineering in Automotive Engineering as a distance learner through Integrative Systems + Design’s (ISD) program. After enrolling and joining the U-M community, Matthew discovered that distance learning offered a different experience than a traditional on-campus program, “[requiring] discipline, self-motivation, and proper time management skills.” Matthew was up to the challenge, not only managing to complete his degree in two years while working full time, but also reaching his goal of graduating with a high grade point average (4.00).
Reflecting upon his time as a student, Matthew viewed his capstone project as the most impactful experience. He was able to travel to Germany for his project, where he worked to create an engine model that would be used by the BMW Motorsport team in Munich. “The task was quite daunting given the timeline, but I was very proud of the results. This was definitely the highlight of my studies,” Matthew said.
Matthew continues to work for BMW in his role as a Senior Safety Engineer. For those looking to follow in his footsteps, he suggests Formula SAE as a great starting point. Beyond that, an ISD graduate degree seems to be a great next step–it certainly was for Matthew.