tOakland University has launched the nation's first student chapter of the Society of Automotive Analysts, a professional association that focuses on the trends, technologies, and developments affecting the automotive industry.
tPaul Wheeler, vice president of the society, says the organization has plans to introduce more student chapters throughout the country as it looks to grow membership in schools and through its subsidary group the Young Professionals Network.
tUnder the strategy, the OU chapter will provide students with networking opportunities, a forum to discuss ideas, and a sense of what’s occurring in today’s automotive industry, says Janell Townsend, a marketing and international business professor and academic adviser for the organization.
t“Not only does this give students the opportunity to interact with professionals — people who have gained a high level of expertise in their careers — but it gives them an idea of what it is they might like to do with their future career,” Townsend says. “And that’s really important because often we think we want to do things or we think we find something interesting, but this allows students (to determine that it is a real interest) by exposing them to people, ideas, and concepts that they might not be exposed to in the classroom.”
tJoshua Yasoni, a finance major at the Rochester-based school, will serve as the first year president of the chapter. “Oakland’s business school, its faculty, alumni, and the SAA have helped to prepare me to launch my career in the auto industry,” he says. “I never thought that I’d be so involved in the auto industry as a student at 21.”
tTownsend adds such collaborations exemplify why the automotive industry continues to thrive in southeastern Michigan.
t“If you look around the world, people and governments have been trying to build their own automotive industries because it’s such an important component of the economic infrastructure,” she says. “And you start to see that in the really successful economic clusters, industry, academic, universities, and government all partner together.”
tFor more information about the Society of Automotive Analysts, visit saaautoleaders.org.