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Accelerating Success: Cullen College Senior Wins Automotive Leadership Award

By: 

Laurie Fickman
Grant Mottershaw (right) in Detroit with Max Rumbaugh III and below, Mottershaw building the UH FSAE chassis
Grant Mottershaw (right) in Detroit with Max Rumbaugh III and below, Mottershaw building the UH FSAE chassis

Grant Mottershaw, a senior in mechanical engineering at the Cullen College of Engineering, received the 2016 Rumbaugh Outstanding Student Leader Award in Detroit at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International World Congress. SAE is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries.

Annually, SAE identifies and recognizes an outstanding student leader and, through the award, encourages “a vision within the recipient to become an SAE leader during his/her adult career,” according to SAE. Among the honors, Mottershaw becomes a lifetime member of the organization.

SAE cited Mottershaw for demonstrating outstanding leadership skills for his involvement with the UH Formula SAE (FSAE) project, in which the team designs and builds a Formula One-style race car from the ground up to compete in the Formula SAE Series (FSAE) races.

When Mottershaw joined the group, it was sputtering. There had been one group started in the College of Technology and one in the Cullen College, but neither group was positioned yet to get out of the starting gate.

So Mottershaw took the wheel and revved up the operations, financial management and new member recruitment. He also is on the team building the car’s chassis, which is the frame of the vehicle.

Setting it on cruise

“The goal from the beginning was to build a sustainable organization,” said Mottershaw. “I like to think of FSAE as a microcosm of what goes on in the real world – you have to raise the money, allocate your resources, deal with politics and you still have to have a product at the end of the day.”

And so he went to work, studying other FSAE models of success to perfect a plan for the UH team. He recalls a quote that helped drive his success: “First you must finish, then you can finish first,” said Mottershaw. And to finish, they needed money. No coincidence that if Mottershaw wasn’t an engineer he says he’d like to be a financier. Since he took control, the organization has raised $115,000 in cash and in-kind services.

An Eagle Scout at 16, Mottershaw has always combined leadership skills with his love of building things and solving problems.

Even after returning from the whirlwind award ceremony in Detroit, Mottershaw says winning hasn’t sunk in. Admittedly, he says “it’s awesome,” but what was greater for him was presenting to the groups of industry professionals and getting the opportunity to meet them.

Mottershaw has high hopes of becoming a professional in the auto industry.

Naturally. He’s geared for it.

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