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Steven Zhang ’18: Racing Toward a Career in Engineering

Jared Scott Tesler
Steven Zhang ’18 is not only a mechanical engineering major and electrical engineering minor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, but also a member of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, which has been designing, building, and racing the country’s fastest solar vehicles for the past 30 years.
 
“The scope of the project and the quality of the team appealed to me greatly,” recalls Zhang, a Race Operations Engineer who oversees metals manufacturing and supply chain logistics. “Over the course of the last year, I dedicated several thousand hours of my life to building a championship car.”
 
His tireless efforts were not in vain: The 20-person team secured a third-place finish in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a 1,878-mile road race through the Australian Outback.
 
“In the pursuit of the ever-unobtainable ‘perfect car,’ every step is a challenge and, in turn, a learning opportunity,” Zhang says. “Between the technical intricacies of striking the optimal balance between performance and price, the soft skills involved in developing and maintaining sponsor relations, and the heretofore entirely unknown difficulty of moving millions of dollars of equipment across the world, I’ve been able to comprehensively develop my professional skillset.”
 
That skillset will certainly come in handy as Zhang—who says The Shipley School’s fast track in mathematics gave him a substantial head start in college—moves closer to his dream of becoming “a modern captain of industry, changing the course of human history with technology.”
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.