The Interview: Roberta Hunt

Here at the EcoCar blog, we have the opportunity all the time to tell what the team as a whole is up to, but we never really get the chance to sit down and focus on the human side of the team. With the EcoCar world being hectic as ever, I wanted to try something different and focus on a single team member who has been committed to the team for as long as any other.

Roberta Hunt joined the EcoCar in her second year in her program (she spent her first year at Grant MacEwan), which was also the inaugural year of the EcoCar team. “I joined at the beginning” as Roberta phrased it. I asked her how the team then differed from the current team. She replied, “It was a bit disorganized, but that was expected, but everyone was really excited”. She went on to talk about the concerns of the original team, such as being unsure if people would join, and a total lack of experience, as no one had ever designed a car before. Her involvement was always on the mechanical team: “I was on the steering team for a while… then I came back and am now on the fuel cells team”

Roberta’s latest hiatus from the team was over the summer and during the fall semester, when she went to Germany: “I decided I wanted to do another internship; I decided I wanted to check out Europe and see if I wanted to live there permanently… I worked at Statkraft. Did an internship in energy management… It ended up being a lot of statistical analysis of solar energy and wind energy that they could sell on the electricity markets.” She went on to say that it was rewarding to work with really good people, and she plans to return to work there upon completion of her degree.

I asked Roberta what, if any, skills that she gained from the EcoCar that helped her in her work: “One of the things that I talked a lot about in the interview was the EcoCar team. Since at the time I was still heading up the mechanical fuel cells team, I talked a lot about the issues that we had and the problems we encountered.” Roberta went on to talk about how her ability to coordinate a team scattered around the globe (as was the case in the summer of 2014, where 4 main members of the team were dispersed in Germany, Bulgaria, and Halifax). The technical abilities that Roberta applied to her work abroad were the little things. She cited her ability to find the information that she needs, and to document her work accurately for the next member on the team.

I then asked Roberta what she would say to someone considering joining EcoCar, what can the team offer? “It depends on what you’re looking for. And I wouldn’t say that EcoCar is something everyone should do… If you’re coming into engineering just to get the piece of paper and get out, I find that kind of unfortunate but that’s fine. Maybe this isn’t for you. But if you’re in engineering to really learn how to design and to meet like-minded or even differently-minded people that you can come to understand the world in a different way. If you want to be a better engineer or even a better person, this is a good start.”

As for students in general, Roberta has this to say, “try, [by the end of your degree], to find what you really want to do. I took Six years to do my degree, and that’s in a lot of ways, really disheartening, seeing people graduate two years before I did. At the same time, coming out of it now… I know what I want out of life and where I want to be.”

I might add that Roberta is Currently completing her degree (Winter 2015), is learning German, and is also learning to snowboard.

Kicking Horse
Roberta took this Photo on a recent trip to Kicking Horse in British Columbia

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pride that I present for your consideration a dear friend and fantastic coworker: Roberta Hunt

Roberta in Nova Scotia, Summer of 2014
Roberta in Nova Scotia, Summer of 2014

About Mikel Gomes

After completing two years of a Joint Math and Physics major at the University of Northern British Columbia, Mikel transferred into the second year of the Engineering Physics program at the University of Alberta in 2012. He joined the University of Alberta EcoCar team in later 2013 and is currently the Motors Team Lead. Recently, he has been assisting in improving the public and corporate visibility of the EcoCar team.