Jeff Rogers finished his education in Ann Arbor only two years ago, but he hasn’t been disconnected from the Solar Car team yet. Jeff was an alumni mentor in this past fall’s World Solar Challenge (WSC) as well as the 2010 American Solar Challenge (ASC). What he misses most is “working with such a tightly knit group of people hell-bent on winning. It isn’t nearly as fun working for a real company.”
Jeff grew up in Rochester Hills, Michigan and studied computer science engineering receiving a Bachelor’s degree in 2008 and a Master’s in 2010. He joined the Solar Car team immediately during his freshmen year because he had so much fun with FIRST robotics in high school and because he marveled at the sound of a solar car competition (who doesn’t?). While he was new to the team, he worked on the micro-electrical system and figured out a rear-view camera. By 2007, he was in charge of the micro-electrical system and had started to redesign everything besides the rear-view camera. In 2009, he maintained his technical role as the lead micro-electrical engineer and was also a senior leader.
Jeff raced in WSC 2007, NASC 2008, and WSC 2009 as well as the two in which he mentored. One of his favorite moments was pulling Continuum out of its trailer for the first time in Darwin, and since the solar concentrators were kept confidential, he remembers that the reaction from the competitors was priceless. Moreover, he recalls, “I think the best part of any competition was being with all of the other teams in the pits before the race. In 2008 we all rallied together to help out Oregon State get their very first solar car running. It was great to work with people from other teams with a common goal.”
Today, Jeff is developing software for SpaceX. He believes that the technical challenges from Solar Car actually overlapp a lot with his work, and he felt that the teamwork experience was invaluable. He was very impressed with the latest race crew even though many of the members were rookies. To the next generation, he shares this advice: “Don’t take the competition so seriously that you don’t enjoy it.”