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Ohio State motorsports helped fuel a 23-year career at Ford
When Jackie DiMarco was a senior at The Ohio State University in the 1990s, she needed some electives to accompany her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. Her adviser mentioned that Ohio State's Center for Automotive Research (CAR) had some motorsports teams that would be a perfect addition to her schedule.
Following her adviser’s recommendation, DiMarco joined Ohio State’s Formula Lightning team. Formula Lightning was an electric single-seat formula racing competition, and the vehicles could achieve up to 143 mph. Pit stops were an integral part of the race; the crew quickly swapped new batteries when the pack ran low on juice.
DiMarco worked primarily on the racecar’s battery box. She helped design and fabricate a frame that allowed the pit crew to easily swap battery packs during a race.
While working on Formula Lightning, she also met her husband, Pat DiMarco, who was on the Smokin’ Buckeye motorsports team.
DiMarco received her bachelor’s degree in 1995 and her master’s degree in 1996, both in mechanical engineering. Now, DiMarco works at Ford Motor Company as Director of the North American Truck Business. She has worked there for 23 years, and during that time, she was the chief program engineer on a few different nameplates including the Ford F-150, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. She also worked in Europe for a few years on vehicles like the Ford Escape and Transit Connect.
“At Ford, the day the first new product rolls off the line is the most rewarding,” DiMarco said. “It’s the same feeling with race days on motorsports teams. Watching your hard work pay off is the most fulfilling thing, and you don’t get that in classrooms. Getting an ‘A’ is different from watching your product cross the finish line.”
DiMarco often visits her alma mater. On April 5, she attended the Buckeye Engineering Women’s Executive Leadership Roundtable.
“I have great memories of my time at Ohio State,” DiMarco said. “Not only did I get an excellent education, but I also had countless research opportunities. I feel very passionate that Ohio State develops fantastic students, and they are all very ready for the real world.”
DiMarco said that one of the best things to do as a new engineering student is earn out-of-class experience.
“My first bit of advice is to get involved,” DiMarco said. “Try something out and meet some people. Things will grow from there; once you’re on the project, you can build your skills. You need to learn how to work on a team, and CAR allows you to do that.”
by Jake Berg, Center for Automotive Research writing intern