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Leveling Up: AutoDrive Challenge™ II Dynamic Judge Shares his Journey from Student Participant to Industry Professional

Posted: June 19, 2023

SAE recently traveled to MCity in Ann Arbor, Michigan to check out year two of the AutoDrive Challenge™ II and connect with Alex Rath, dynamic captain for AutoDrive Challenge™ II and control system engineer at General Motors.

The AutoDrive Challenge™ II is a four-year competition of SAE International and General Motors where participating university teams from the United States and Canada develop and demonstrate an autonomous vehicle (AV) that can navigate urban driving courses as described by SAE Standard (J3016™) Level 4 automation.

Rath first got involved with the AutoDrive Challenge™ as an undergraduate student at Kettering University. During his collegiate career, Rath participated in several of SAE’s university programs. He was involved in Formula SAE®, the Clean Snowmobile Challenge and most notable for him, the AutoDrive Challenge™.

“Being involved with the SAE programs really helped me get an understanding of how to take the things I learned in the classroom at my university and put them into real-world application,” said Rath. “They also helped me get to know a lot of people in industry that I got to talk to as I was looking to get a job after I graduated.”

Rath’s participation in SAE’s collegiate competitions helped him land his job with General Motors and his involvement in AutoDrive as a student has evolved into his role as a volunteer in the second series of the competition.

“In my role as a dynamic judge for AutoDrive, I help with creating the ruleset that all teams follow for the competition. I also help a lot with organizing the volunteers for the dynamic events and figuring out of how we’re going to set up the course, who we’re going to have where, and when everything’s going to be happening.”

Learn more about the AutoDrive Challenge™ II and how to get involved here.