After graduating from J.R. Tucker High School in Henrico County, Doug chose J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College for two reasons. First, he wanted to study automotive technology, and Reynolds offered the Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program which provides an automotive education focused exclusively on current Ford products. Secondly, he was offered a full scholarship so the stress of paying for college was eliminated.
Arriving at Reynolds, Doug immersed himself in college life while excelling in his automotive studies. He served as a student ambassador, participated in the JSR Lead Program and served as vice president of the student council on the Goochland Campus. He joined and remains a board member for Project STIR (Sustainable Transportation Initiative of Richmond) whose goal is to make the Greater Richmond Region the national model in building an innovative, sustainable transportation system that moves people in a greener way.
One of Doug’s instructors, Michael Trapani, recognized his talents and encouraged him to continue his education beyond automotive technology to the field of engineering. Doug quickly realized the value of having a “Plan B” for his future and after earning his Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology, he returned to Reynolds to earn a second Associate degree, this time in Engineering. He then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a goal of completing his education in December 2013.
While a student in the Ford ASSET program at Reynolds, Doug was required to work at a Ford dealership - it was at this time he met a Field Service Engineer from Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Field Service Engineers (FSE) travel to dealerships as technical specialists to diagnose problems and assist local mechanics when there is an issue the local mechanic can’t resolve. Intrigued by the position, Doug asked the FSE about his position and how he acquired it. The FSE gave Doug the contact information for the recruiter who had hired him and suggested he contact her. Doug made the inquiry, sent a resume as requested, then traveled to Detroit for an interview, and in the end was offered a position as a service engineer in a call center. The service engineer’s role is to diagnose and resolve problems for mechanics over the phone. If they are unable to do so, a field service engineer is dispatched to the dealership.
Doug realized that this was not only his dream job, but an opportunity that might not come again. He moved to Dearborn Michigan in mid-June and has been on the job since. Although he won’t be graduating from VCU in December as planned, Doug has already made arrangements to complete his mechanical engineering degree by next spring at a college in Michigan.
Doug noted, “Reynolds opened so many doors for me, and they are still opening. I had so many experiences that I would never have had if I went to another school. Attending Reynolds was a fantastic experience and the best decision I ever made. I am now the school’s biggest advocate, recommending it to others at every opportunity.”
Doug has given back to Reynolds as well. This spring he was part of a team of four VCU students who designed and created a self-parking golf cart with the ability to park itself simply with the press of one button. The project, a collaborative effort between VCU and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, was one of the projects displayed at VCU’s School of Engineering Senior Design Expo 2013. The golf cart now resides at Reynolds where future automotive students will use the vehicle as a lab tool for a new course entitled Automotive Electronic Guidance Control Systems. Ford noted, “My first degree at Reynolds was in Automotive Technology, so it means a lot to me to be able to give back to future Reynolds students so they can learn and grow as technology evolves in the auto industry.”
One can’t help but wonder with the last name of Ford, if Doug is any relation to that “Ford” family, but he said there is no relation that he has been able to find, at least not so far.