STEM Professional of the week

Michael G. Diaz      
General Motors

Michael Diaz was born in Washington D.C., and although his family did not have many financial resources, he was born with a wealth of ambition. Ever since he could remember, Michael was on a quest to unlock his potential for personal achievement.

His parents Pedro and Blanca, both from Peru, met after immigrating to the U.S. Blanca was a nursing assistant, who instilled in him an unwavering work ethic. Pedro, inspired a curiosity and logic-based decision making in Michael that coupled with his high regard for education, gave him the confidence to pursue big dreams. A set of unfortunate events, including the premature death of his father, left Michael and his family scrambling to make ends meet. His mother, however, admirably stretched what little she had and managed to give her sons everything they would need to lead a fulfilled life.

When Michael started high school, he never imagined that an ‘87 Pontiac would be the key to his future. He worked on repairing the car and learned that, “everything that was at one time put together could be taken apart, repaired and put back together.” This car project would become a critical part of the pathway to Michael's engineering career.

As a high school student, Michael knew that he wanted to continue his education, but was faced with the uncertainty of how he would pay for college. Proactively, Michael applied to as many scholarships as he could find. Amid those, was the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which he soon learned he had won. The scholarship meant that Michael would receive full tuition plus living expenses to a school of his choice. He chose Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) where, staying true to his ambitious attitude, he chose to major in both mechanical and computer engineering. By 2008, Michael had earned bachelor’s degrees in both disciplines and a year later was proudly holding a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

With multiple degrees in hand, Michael embarked on the next chapter of his life working as an engineer. While he was in college, he had participated in several internships with General Motors (GM) , and in 2010, he was able to secure a full time position with the automaker. At GM, Michael works as a Hybrid Vehicle Propulsion Systems Controls Development Engineer, a position requiring the highest capabilities in a wide variety of engineering disciplines. In this role, Michael is charged with the planning and execution of large-scale cross-team projects and leads efforts to increase efficiency of complex numerical methods on vehicle controllers. He designs hybrid and electrical powertrain control systems and shows that requirements are met with bench and vehicle tests at GM’s proving grounds and other global locations.

Michael has firmly established a commendable track record of sustained achievement, exhibited the highest levels of dedication to meeting goals and deadlines, all while earning the admiration and respect of peers and management. Michael enjoys applying the set of core values that he learned early on and is taking hold of every opportunity that continuously presents itself as an engineer, a husband and as a father.

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