Momentum - October 2019 - 24


HAVING WORKED in both capacities for major
automakers during a career that spans 30+ years, Dean
Case is the rare combination of engineer and PR man. "I
like to write and talk," he says. So in terms of making the
most of one's career as an engineer, he knows as well as
anyone the value of cultivating soft skills to complement
one's technical skills.
And he's more than happy to share his insights, as he
did this past April at WCX World Congress Experience,
SAE International's largest annual conference. The title
of his humorous and insightful presentation was "Things
They Don't Teach in Engineering Class," with a subtitle
of "Why SAE is a Must for Every Engineering Student
Seeking a Career in the Greater Mobility World."
Of today's engineering students who end up
graduating, Case said: "Your technical skills are better
than ever. Your communications skills? Yeah, not so
much...It's not enough to be really smart; you have to find
the person who's going to appreciate that and then want
to pay you money. And that's not always the easiest task
in the world."
Before he gave tips on how to improve communication
skills, he offered a little of his autobiography, going back
to the fall of 1981 when he "showed up at Cal Poly San
Luis Obispo" and found to his surprise that there was a
SCORE Baja race truck on campus. Largely at his urging,
the Baja SAE team there volunteered to host the 1986
competition on campus rather than travel all the way to El
Paso, Texas, which was the regular host for the Western
competition in the 1980s. That plan seemed to backfire
when it ended up costing the non-supported team
more time, energy, and money to stage a competition
than to travel to one. And it finished dead last in its own
event. However, the team's efforts caught the attention
of the dean of engineering, who afterwards committed
to supporting the team financially. Previously, the dean
considered the team "a bunch of hooligan mechanics."
Then it was on to an engineering career for Case,
who started at Mazda and worked on the original Miata
program, later moving to Ford and then Nissan. He
eventually found himself doing PR for Nissan and he
now works as a consultant for Motivo Engineering and
Grassroots Motorsports magazine.
Throughout his career, he was actively involved
in SAE International, leveraging his membership in
the organization to engage other SAE members in
informative meetings and activities. In recent years,
he's offered career advice to about 40 student groups,
mainly through SAE's Industrial Lecture Series, on
the topic of soft skills development. A piece of advice
he offered is for students to take advantage of that
24 October 2019

Veteran engineer and PR man Dean Case offers advice to students at WCX World
Congress Experience 2019 in Detroit.
free program (
industrial-lecture-program) in which experts can talk on a number of
relevant topics.
Similarly, students should apply for an SAE scholarship, of which
there are 17 covering freshman year through graduate school (
Another piece of advice was to focus on the right things in the SAE
Collegiate Design Series competitions. "You are obsessed with winning,"
said Case. "We on the industry side don't really care who wins." Teams
finishing in the top 10 do attract attention, he added, "but we're just as
likely to go deeper in the paddock when looking to recruit."
He described as "a missed opportunity" the mistake of participating
in a competition without bringing a resume to hand out to recruiters.
Resumes should be one-page long, Case advised. And after
submitting a resume, the student should follow up in a personal way.
"The biggest failure mode is follow-up," he said, "and the 55-cent secret
weapon is a postage stamp. Old-school mail actually works."
View Case's entire presentation at


Momentum - October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Momentum - October 2019

Momentum - October 2019
Getting a grip on costs
75 points
Major redesign
One-on-One – Kaitlyn Baron
It’s all about suspension simulation for Zuura Formula Racing
Engineering the future of two-stroke
Digital suspension keeps cabs stable
Motion sickness meets autonomous adaptable dynamics
SAE 101: Books
Miscellaneous news for SAE Student Members!
Dossier: Justin AndresMooi of Yanfeng Automotive Interiors
Momentum - October 2019 - Momentum - October 2019
Momentum - October 2019 - Cover2
Momentum - October 2019 - Contents
Momentum - October 2019 - EDITORIAL
Momentum - October 2019 - BRIEFS
Momentum - October 2019 - STUDENT GENERATION
Momentum - October 2019 - 5
Momentum - October 2019 - 6
Momentum - October 2019 - Getting a grip on costs
Momentum - October 2019 - 75 points
Momentum - October 2019 - 9
Momentum - October 2019 - Major redesign
Momentum - October 2019 - 11
Momentum - October 2019 - 12
Momentum - October 2019 - One-on-One – Kaitlyn Baron
Momentum - October 2019 - It’s all about suspension simulation for Zuura Formula Racing
Momentum - October 2019 - 15
Momentum - October 2019 - Engineering the future of two-stroke
Momentum - October 2019 - 17
Momentum - October 2019 - Digital suspension keeps cabs stable
Momentum - October 2019 - Motion sickness meets autonomous adaptable dynamics
Momentum - October 2019 - SAE 101: Books
Momentum - October 2019 - Miscellaneous news for SAE Student Members!
Momentum - October 2019 - Dossier: Justin AndresMooi of Yanfeng Automotive Interiors
Momentum - October 2019 - 23
Momentum - October 2019 - 24
Momentum - October 2019 - Cover3
Momentum - October 2019 - Cover4