When Oakland University student Peyton Schmid found out she had won the Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship via a Zoom call earlier this summer, she was in disbelief. The highly coveted $10,000 scholarship, named in honor of the former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, is awarded annually to only 10 engineering students at premier partner universities around the world.

“I feel so honored to have been chosen out of such a competitive pool of students, and I am very thankful,” said Schmid, an electrical engineering major from New Baltimore, Michigan. “I owe my thanks to Oakland University as well. Oakland has provided me with so many opportunities to not only gain knowledge that is integral to my career, but also numerous opportunities to further my leadership experience.”

This was the first year that the Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship was made available to students in OU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. The SECS Career Services team formed a scholarship review committee and promoted the scholarship to SECS students. After reviewing the applicants, the committee along with SECS Dean Louay Chamra selected Schmid for the award.

According to SECS Career Consultant Kelli Foskic, who led the selection committee, Schmid stood out as the top candidate for several reasons.

“As a Resident Assistant for the freshman Engineering and Computer Science floor, Peyton leads and mentors students as they begin their journey at OU. This experience aligned nicely with the scholarship’s strong communication and leadership criteria,” said Foskic. “In addition, Peyton’s lifelong interest in cars, which resulted in her work as an apprentice technician at a Ford dealership, set her apart as someone who was committed to future opportunities within the automotive industry. We’re excited to see how Peyton’s future will be positively influenced through this scholarship and the connection opportunities within the Ford Blue Oval Scholar Program.”

Schmid is also the secretary of The Honors College Student Association at OU and serves as the social chair of OU’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi, a national honor society for engineering students. She credits her father, a mechanic, with sparking her interest in the automotive field.
“I have been around him fixing cars since I was little,” she said. “I used to go into the dealership that he worked at, Ed Schmid Ford, all the time during the summer. I would take apart door panels and replace broken mirrors.”

Last summer, Schmid worked with her father as an apprentice mechanic, specializing in electrical, powertrain and HVAC repairs. These experiences helped fine-tune her automotive knowledge and fueled her career aspirations. She is particularly interested in furthering the development of electric and autonomous vehicles.

“These vehicles are the future of the industry, and are integral to the reduction of the human carbon footprint on the Earth,” she explained.

Ford Motor Company established the Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship in 2015. The Ford Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, administers the scholarship annually to 10 outstanding sophomore or junior engineering students working toward degrees in the automotive field at premier partner universities around the world. In 2020, the OU School of Engineering and Computer Science was selected as one of the universities that would award the scholarship to a student.

According to Kathy Livelsberger, director of Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science Career Services, “OU SECS was selected due to the history of a successful recruiting partnership with Ford and the quality of our engineering, computer science and information technology programs.”

Farah Harb, global education programs analyst for the Ford Motor Company Fund, added, “Ford’s Mulally scholarship is providing opportunities for promising engineering students, like Peyton, to continue developing their skills on the way to becoming successful innovators. We’re proud of our investments in education and our relationship with Oakland University to support and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

When OU became a premier partner university, it became eligible for several scholarships and grants offered through the Ford Fund. To date, OU’s Formula SAE team, Robotics team and student leaders have received various Ford Fund awards, including the Ford Blue Oval Vehicle Team Challenge Award and Ford Blue Oval Vehicle Team Scholarship. In 2019, the OU Formula SAE team received a $5,000 Ford Blue Oval Mini Grant to support their participation in the Formula Student Germany International Design Competition in Hockenheim, Germany.

To learn more about OU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, visit oakland.edu/secs.