Meet SAE International: Zac Pace, Education Program Specialist
When Zac Pace first encountered SAE International, engineering hadn’t seemed like a possibility.
With a background working in the university space and degrees in education and the humanities, steering into STEM was not part of the plan. In fact, when a LinkedIn notification suggested to Pace he would be in the top 10 percent of candidates for the role at SAE, he thought it was a fluke.
“Looking at my credentials, I had never really considered engineering or the STEM world as viable for me, so I ignored the post thinking that something in their algorithm is off,” Pace joked.
But the job ad kept popping up, and curious and convinced, he applied. After some great conversations with the University Programs team about their mission to provide meaningful, hands-on education opportunities to developing engineers and the ability for Pace to build the AutoDrive Challenge II program, he was ready to join the team.
In his first three years with the organization, Pace has grown the AutoDrive Challenge into a celebrated international program with a reputation for producing world-class engineers—but his impact on SAE doesn’t stop there.
With a passion for creating inclusive spaces that provide a sense of belonging for folks inside those spaces, Pace found his education and skill set matched up with a need for a new DEI initiative to bring employee resources to SAE. He identified an area where the business was lacking resources and pitched a group for the LGTBQ+ community and its allies. The Chief Diversity Officer welcomed his suggestion, and soon after, Pace became the chair of SAE’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG).
As an ERG leader, Pace has had the opportunity to grow and network with colleagues not only within SAE International, but also with business affiliates throughout the Fullsight organization. It’s also allowed him to put into practice a personal mantra he’s held throughout his career.
“I really believe we are best served organizationally and individually when people bring their whole selves to work,” Pace said. “I think often when you have a marginalized identity, it’s vilified or made to seem like you don’t belong, but when we focus on creating a culture that celebrates people, it allows us all to be more fulfilled in the work we’re doing.”
The ability to live up to SAE’s mission to advance mobility knowledge and solutions for the benefit of humanity aligns with Pace’s service driven heart. Through his work, he’s found the opportunity to make an impact and add value for folks engaged with the organization at multiple levels.
“I think anyone can go to work and collect a paycheck; I want to be making a difference, and that’s why I do what I do,” he said. “One of the things that was appealing before I even interviewed with SAE is that our mission is fundamentally concerned with equity, and I’m really interested in the process of both generating and sustaining momentum.”
That momentum is building, and Pace is a leading voice driving toward a more inclusive and equitable SAE.