STEAM Sports Foundation has announced the recipients for this year’s “Women of Color” scholarships in automotive/motorsports engineering are Ashley Jones of Wayne State University and Jinelee Galindez of Universal Technical Institute (pictured left to right, above). They both will receive a $5,000 per year grant that was funded primarily from the 23XI Racing SPEED Institute.
Jones is a mechanical engineering major who has interned with the Ford Motor Company both in high school and college. This summer she has been involved in vehicle evaluation and design verification. Her high school internship was part of Ford’s Homologation H.S. Science and Technology Program. She has also been part of Ford’s Performance Driven Workforce where she drove new production vehicles for mileage accumulation on prescribed routes and evaluated and recorded observations of issues and performance of vehicles.
“Being recognized by the STEAM Sports Foundation is a great honor,” said Jones. “As a child, I was always interested in cars and told everyone I wanted to be a mechanic when I grew up. In college, I combined my interest in math and love of cars into the pursuit of a mechanical engineering degree. The fact that this scholarship is associated with the motorsports industry is a huge encouragement to me.”
Jones indicated that one of her career aspirations is to create and test innovative features, especially those pertaining to electric vehicles and charging stations.
Galindez, of Puerto Rican descent from Brooklyn, NY, enters Universal Technical Institute’s Mercedes Benz DRIVE program this fall in her effort to become a certified automotive technician. She made a career change two years ago when the COVID pandemic forced her to consider new opportunities, moving from New York to Florida where she excelled in UTI’s Automotive II program. The Mercedes Benz Drive program is geared toward individuals pursuing a career at a Mercedes Benz dealership. It focuses on lab learning deductive reasoning as well as the major components and systems found in luxury vehicles.
“This scholarship just changed some of the many obstacles I have been facing,” said Galindez. “I no longer have to worry about not being able to finish my studies and can actually reach my goal of having a career as a master senior technician. Admittedly, I do not see a whole lot of others who look like me trying to achieve what I hope to achieve, so perhaps I can be an encouragement to others like me.”
STEAM Sports Foundation’s executive director Bob Dickinson emphasized that the selection of both an engineering student and technician represents the future of the auto industry — its need for design and engineering elements along with technical maintenance of these computer-laden vehicles.
“These grants hopefully provide a chance for young women of color who grew up not seeing women who looked like them in these roles and now realize that these opportunities are indeed realistic and attainable,” said Dickinson.
“The automotive and transportation industries are among the most vital to the world’s economy. We are so proud to be able to provide these grants to two truly extraordinary women whom we are confident will make their mark in the automotive and/or motorsports industry, particularly as it focuses on a future of electric and autonomous vehicles.”
Funding for this year’s scholarships came primarily from the 23XI Racing SPEED Institute, which is 23XI Racing’s educational and professional development initiative, launched in 2021. The initiative expands on the team’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in sports, specifically in the motorsports industry. Bubba Wallace, one of 23XI’s drivers, has also been a key NASCAR spokesperson for DEI efforts in motorsports. 23XI Racing, along with its partners under the SPEED Institute program, will provide educational opportunities as well as diversity recruiting and professional development in the motorsports field. Founded by NBA legend Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin in 2020, 23XI Racing is currently in its second season competing in the NASCAR Cup Series.
STEAM Sports Foundation launched its inaugural “Women of Color” scholarship in automotive engineering last year, awarding a $5,000 grant to Kimberly Betty of Kettering University. Betty is doing an internship this summer through NASCAR at the General Motor’s Technical Center in Concord, NC.
This year’s selection committee was led by foundation board member Rob Baskin, who heads communication for the Atlanta Police Foundation. Other members of the committee were Ashli Bobo of Nissan, Alba Colon of Hendrick Motorsports and Elon Terrell of Baylor University.