Alumni Spotlight: Engineering Efficiency

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Meet one of the greatest champions of Principia’s 3+2 dual degree engineering science program: Cory Miller (C’05), who completed the program with a BS in physics from Principia and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

During job interviews after graduation, Cory told potential employers how hiring someone with liberal arts and engineering degrees could benefit the organization. “I described the top notch academics at Principia and shared my experience on the solar car team,” Cory says. “Professional engineers are curious how a small liberal arts college with no engineering school fields a solar car team that places very well in races. I was able to share how I raced in Greece, Australia, and across North America, and was a team leader during a redesign of the car.

Until recently, Cory worked as an engine designer at Harley Davidson Motorcycles in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “My work focused on improving the designs of these engines by increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. It was a great job for staying in touch with the latest technology in engine design that improves the efficiency of transportation, which has been a strong interest since my experience on the solar car team.”

“It is no mistake that my computer screen saver displays photos from solar car races,” Cory continues. “The team experience was excellent preparation for a career in engineering. I learned how to sort through 20 different opinions about how to solve a design problem. And I developed the courage to take on a large-scale project, and just chip away at it. My liberal arts background from Principia also helps because I can write and communicate effectively in my job.”

Cory has a keen interest in alternative energy sources, such as hydrogen, biofuels, solar, and wind. “I make my own biodiesel, which I use in my truck and for heating my house,” he explains. “The field of alternative energy has a big future and includes some promising and interesting opportunities,” he says. In fact, Cory recently left Harley Davidson to join a small company that designs an innovative, new diesel engine to replace older, less efficient gas engines.

Cory plans to attend the solar car reunion in June and looks forward to connecting with many other alumni who’ve worked on the car through the years.