Engineering Alumni Spotlight: Andy Gutierrez
Andy Gutierrez’s roots in the automotive industry — and in Wayne State University — run deep. He is a second-generation alumnus and a fourth-generation Ford Motor Company employee. His advocacy for STEM education and love for the city of Detroit are motivators for him to stay well connected to his alma mater. Gutierrez returns to campus often for recruitment opportunities, earned a graduate degree through the Engineering Management Master’s Program (EMMP) and is active in the College of Engineering’s Industry Mentor Program — one of the many ways he gives back to Wayne State and his community.
Can you please describe your career path?
I have been at Ford Motor Company for almost 13 years working in powertrain engineering. About two-and-a-half years ago, I moved over to the electrified powertrain engineering (EPE) organization and have been working in the high voltage battery department.
I graduated in December of 2005 with my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and hired into Ford as an FCG (Ford College Graduate) in transmission and driveline. After the FCG program I stayed in transmission for a year, and later moved over to powertrain integration.
Within powertrain I had the opportunity to support many vehicle launches and prototype builds including 2010 Fusion in Hermosillo, Mexico, the 2012 Focus —which was Ford’s first global launch — and the 2015 50th Anniversary Mustang.
After the Mustang launch I worked on the 2020 Explorer and Aviator programs prior to moving over to EPE, where I lead a team responsible for program control for all variants of HV batteries. As electrification is relatively new to the industry in comparison to ICE powertrains and vehicles we had to update many processes that were developed with ICE vehicles in mind.
More recently I moved over to lead engineering development for our FHEV HV batteries. The team recently launched two new HV batteries that are used in mainstream vehicles like the Explorer and Escape, and there are many other vehicles coming that will leverage these HV batteries.
Describe the ways you’ve stayed connected to Wayne State since graduation.
When an undergraduate student at WSU I was a leader of our Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) chapter. Following graduation I made it a point to stay in contact with student members and board leaders to connect in a mentor and advisor role. I have been invited back on several occasions to participate in panel speaking events or professional development workshops.
At Ford I have been a member of the WSU recruiting team, and have continually been on-campus to support our efforts at WSU. The past two years I have served as the product development co-lead, conducting interviews and selecting candidates. I am also the lead SHPE recruiter at Ford and coordinate efforts locally and at the national conference each year. I try to connect with the Wayne State SHPE students that attend this great event.
More recently I was asked to be a part of the Engineering Alumni Council. I have served three years on this board and we are trying hard to add value to the student experience as well as engage alumni at all phases of their career and lives. There are opportunities for all engineering alumni to get involved and I would encourage anyone to reach out to me or another board member, or to seek more information on the WSU engineering website.
With what other organizations do you volunteer?
I am on the board of the Mexicantown Community Development Corporation in southwest Detroit that seeks to increase community business and arts development while maintaining the deep cultural roots of which the community is proud.
I co-chair Ford’s Employee Christmas Fund which is a non-profit that engages Ford employees to raise funds and donate gifts and food to families in difficult situations. Each year we are able to sponsor roughly 130 families, and it feels good to be a part of this passionate team.
For 18 years I have been an assistant baseball coach at Detroit Western International High School in southwest Detroit. The Cowboys are the most successful baseball team in the history of city. In my tenure we have won 12 city championships and helped many players go on to compete at the collegiate level as well as become positive contributors to society.
Lastly, I am president of the Ford Hispanic Network (FHN), an employee resource group (ERG) that focuses on professional development, cultural arts and celebrations, and giving back through community service and educational outreach. Last year the FHN was recognized by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as a finalist for the ERG of the Year award.
Why did you choose to attend Wayne State?
If you want to go into the automotive industry, there is no better place to do that than in the Motor City. My father and two other uncles attended WSU and went on to successful careers. I have always loved cars, the industry and Detroit, so it was a great fit for my interests and where I wanted to go in my career. WSU is located in the heart of the Motor City, and has a very diverse student base much like we see at Ford and in the industry.
How did your education at Wayne State prepare you for what you are doing today?
WSU provided me the technical foundation required to go into and thrive in the automotive industry. It taught me a thought process to approach solving problems and how to work effectively both as a team member and as a leader. Through Wayne State’s career fair I was able to attain a co-op at Visteon, a tier-1 supplier to Ford and other OEMs. At Visteon I was able to get real-world experience, learn the way both the supplier and OEMs operate, and earn a nice paycheck while I was at it. When it came time to interview for a full time position later at Ford, I believe it was my experience that helped separate me from the pack. There were a lot of smart students from a lot of great schools, but few could say they worked for three years within the auto industry and had the awareness of the business I had upon graduation. WSU helped provide me with that leg up.
Who influenced you the most during your time at Wayne State?
Dean Thompkins was the dean of student affairs at the time. He was a very down to earth, friendly and knowledgeable man. I had many good conversations with him about SHPE, WSU and life. He challenged me to think bigger beyond the way things were/are and set larger goals. I know he is no longer at WSU but I very much appreciate the time I had to interact with him.
What is the most important thing you learned at Wayne State?
The most important thing I learned was how to work well with a diverse group of individuals who have different backgrounds, interest, priorities and styles — much like we encounter every day at work.
What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their experience at Wayne State?
Live downtown or near campus if you can. The campus and surrounding areas are much nicer now and have many more housing and entertainment options than what existed when I was there. If I could go back and do it again I would take advantage of that and further enrich my learning experience. Beyond that I would encourage them to get involved with student organizations like SHPE, ASME or others. You will develop leadership skills that are not always available in the classroom environment. As a recruiter we see people list student orgs on their resumes, and the first question I ask is, “what do you do with the student org?” We look for not only people who participate, but engineers who lead. The more well-rounded you are as an individual, the more value you can add to a company.