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Students Get An Up Close Look At Technology And Potential Jobs In The Auto Industry

Courtney Collins
KERA news
Geoffrey Dagley shows Daniel Uribe how the augmented reality program works at a student event at Capital One.

New research shows that even basic digital skills bump earning potential by about 17 percent. And since the auto industry is moving in a digital direction, there are a lot of good-paying jobs to be found there. A few hundred Dallas high schoolers just got to see for themselves.

When you think about the auto industry, what do you picture? Assembly lines, showroom floors and maybe, a pushy sales team? Think servers, artificial intelligence and the online marketplace instead. The game is changing, and Capital One wants students in North Texas to know that.

An augmented reality demo lets students use a cell phone to scan miniature model cars, in this case, a 2018 Jaguar F type. Software engineer Geoffrey Dagley explains how it works.

"We send that information to Auto Navigator, the website, and it tells us how many Jaguars are nearby, what I might be able to get as a monthly payment," he said.

The idea behind this technology is one day you might be able to see a car you like parked on the street, scan it with your phone and get instant info on all its features and what it would take to buy one.

Technology in the auto industry

Student Daniel Uribe thinks tech and the auto industry make a great match.

"Technology is pretty much in all industries now a days. And the auto industry is actually one the biggest tech-driven industries out there with investors investing over $100 billion for research and development a year," he said.

If Daniel sounds like an expert, it's because he had an internship this past summer with Capital One, and was on a team of students that came up with the inspiration for this event, called "Car Case." He's a senior at Kimball High School in Dallas. He's in the engineering academy there and will study engineering at Texas A&M this fall. He'll be the first in his family to go to college.

"I take it on myself to learn as much as I can, so I can teach my younger brother and sister," he said.

Sparking new interests

About 200 students attended this "Car Case" event. The mission was to spark an interest in science and technology, and educate high-schoolers about career possibilities that might be out there. Students got to try augmented reality, tour the Capital One Innovation Center and hear from an panel of experts within the auto industry. 

"We want to show them people in those careers, so they can see themselves in those careers," said Monica Shortino, director of social innovations for Capital One. 

Shortino says the jobs are there, they just need local talent to fill them.

"We're hiring software developers, we're hiring product managers, we're looking for great talent in that technology space. Because that is our growing need and that's kind of where we're headed," she said.

Jobs that pay

And these jobs pay living wages. Shortino says many positions don't require a four-year degree, just certifications, and even those have solid starting salaries.

"I would say entry, a lot of those roles are starting at somewhere between $18 and $20 an hour," she said.

And that appeals to Timothy Chapa, who's a sophomore at Uplift Heights Preparatory in West Dallas.

"We're a booming city and a lot of prices are going up. So when you get that career, it's going to really help you in the future, financially and physically. And I say it as a low-income person," he said.

That's something he has in common with a lot of Uplift and DISD students. But, he says, exploring a career in technology isn't just about locking down a good salary.

"It's not just about the money, but I know that I'm improving the world and getting paid for my hard work," Chapa said.

Which is why as he tours Capital One Headquarters in Plano, he says he's keeping an open mind. There may be a job out there that's just right for him. A job that before today, he didn't even know existed.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.