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From repairing her family’s ‘78 Chevy to landing GM TRACK position

Chevy TRACK Story

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Perhaps that’s how Houston-born and -raised project engineer Evelyn Williams developed her interest in extremely large manufacturing equipment.

Williams began her GM career three years ago in a big way – in manufacturing engineering as a member of the Stamping Press Group based at the Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. In her first assignment, Williams supported the Pontiac Metal Center’s tryout press installation. This massive piece of equipment converts sheet metal into vehicle parts, like hoods and side quarter panels.

Williams is now part of a team responsible for overhead crane controls upgrades and new installations. These cranes are mounted about 45 feet above the plant floor and move multi-ton dies used for stamping. Williams is constantly on the go, contributing to nine projects across North America, and she particularly enjoys the planning and strategy aspects of this position.

Williams grew up in a large family with eight brothers and sisters and learned from an early age to be assertive and resourceful, especially when it came to vehicles. Growing up, she helped her father repair the family’s cars. Upon reaching driving age, Williams was told, “If you want a car, you can fix the one in the driveway.” That’s how she gained proud possession of a 1978 Chevrolet Nova.

“Cars have always been a passion since I was young,” she said.

Williams applied her vehicle repair skills to a job as a mechanic at a local dealership as she set her sights on a college degree. She paid her way through college while attending classes during the evenings, ultimately earning her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

After graduation, Williams was offered the opportunity to further her career at GM as a TRACK participant. TRACK is an early career development initiative for GM new hires designed to build foundational skills and provide exposure to GM’s business through rotational assignments, networking and access to training.

Expanding technical skills through GM’s Technical Learning University

Williams is one of many TRACK engineers who have benefitted from GM’s Technical Learning University, or TLU, courses. Based on an initiative that began in 2017, the TLU focuses on improving technical skills of GM’s salaried manufacturing engineers and skilled trades workers. Also located at the Global Technical Center, the TLU brings GM’s developing technologies and training under one roof. GM’s best thinkers in advanced manufacturing, including Body, Propulsion and Vehicle Systems Groups, have a strong presence at the TLU. These organizations are closely involved with GM’s technical instruction.

So far, Williams has completed the TLU’s Robotics and Programmable Logic Controller courses, which helped her improve her technical knowledge and fostered networking opportunities.

“It was nice to get to know colleagues in different parts of the business,” she said. “I took the opportunity during breaks to speak with people and learn about other areas of GM and filled up my address book with contacts!”

Williams is well on her way to achieving her ambitious career goals. She aims to match her growing technical knowledge with job experiences to prepare for future leadership roles. Williams is especially interested in technical courses that align with her manufacturing stamping press responsibilities, including equipment upgrades and breakdown resolution.

“These courses help me to better engage my brain and think more outside of the box,” she notes. “I’m looking forward to additional hands-on technical training opportunities.”

Williams is passionate about standardized work and feels this is where she really makes an impact. She likes compiling tips, best practices and lessons learned from her previous projects and local plant experts and translating them to detailed processes that everyone can understand and follow. Williams does this for all of her projects.

“The most rewarding part of my job is what I do to help the manufacturing teams I support stay on the cutting edge in terms of safety, quality and efficiency,” said Williams. “I’m especially proud of how our advanced technologies impact safety. It feels good to help our people return home safely every day.”

As Williams looks ahead to the future, she is interested in learning about other areas of engineering and further developing leadership skills, such as project management and budgeting.

Throughout her short tenure at GM, Williams has thrown herself into her work. However, she understands the importance of work-life balance. When not on the job, Williams enjoys gardening, oil painting, working on any type of carbureted vehicle and staying true to her “Bigger in Texas” roots by spending time with her really big pets, a Great Dane and Maine Coon cat.

GM aims to keep highly skilled people like Williams energized and engaged, helping both the company and employees succeed in the long term. Career advancement, skills development and educational opportunities through structured training programs like the TLU are making a difference.

“Supporting crane controls and installations was a huge change from my press project,” Williams explained. “I enjoy having the opportunity to see all of my projects through, from cradle to grave.”

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