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In the driver’s seat


When Jackie Karl-DeFrain enrolled at Ohio State, she already knew she was interested in engineering — and she didn’t hesitate to try something completely new.

“I never got to work with my hands growing up,” says the junior from Maumee, Ohio. “Working on cars or in the shop wasn't an experience I had as a kid.  Feeling like I was missing out on that experience, I thought, ‘Let’s go do it now.’”

Indeed, Karl-DeFrain has immersed herself in her studies as well as leading the

Supermileage team co-captain Jackie Karl-DeFrain gets insight on the single-person, fuel-efficient vehicle as well as her career goals in the auto industry from Honda engineers like Dan Nagashima. (Photo by Kevin Fitzsimons)
student Supermileage team; she even drives the vehicle in the competitions.

Beyond the team, Karl-DeFrain has another connection with Honda R&D: She had a co-op with an engine research department there last summer and is hoping to do so again this summer.

“One project allowed me to design a test stand for improved test procedures, another worked with control systems and developing better testing instruments, and a group of three individual projects focused on analyzing customer initial quality study data and determining countermeasures,” Karl-DeFrain says. She also learned about test design, data acquisition and presentation of results.

“Overall, this experience gave me a much better idea of how automotive companies function,” she says.

“The coolest part for me was seeing challenges that we had faced on our Supermileage team, coming to Honda and learning about different solutions, and then going back and being able to apply it,” Karl-DeFrain says. “Supermileage gave me some context for what I learned during my co-op and continues to allow me to apply what I have learned.

“I’d really like to ultimately work in the auto industry with a sustainability focus,” she says. “That’s what I like about Supermileage, is that effort toward sustainability and green solutions.”

For more information about the partnership with Ohio State's Supermileage Team and Honda R&D, click here