“The Future in Motion,” is the slogan of Continental AG, the international, tier one auto supplier that employs Mike McMillan, Macomb Advanced Automotive Technology graduate, as a lead test and validation engineer. And he personifies it well.
“This is a fast growing company with lots of opportunities,” says McMillan, who works in Continental’s Automotive Systems Division. “It’s a lot more interesting than information technology (IT).”
McMillan studied IT for a year at Oakland University before hearing about Macomb’s Center for Advanced Automotive Technology. He’d always liked cars and began to think that becoming a certified mechanic would be his niche in the workplace. He transferred to Macomb, earned his Associate of Applied Science Degree in Advanced Automotive Technology and discovered a new career pathway.
“A couple of my professors starting asking if I had ever considered going into electrical engineering,” offers the 2008 graduate of Anchor Bay High School. “Instead of getting another degree in automotive, I decided to transfer to Wayne State and earn a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. It’s a better route, more general, and I can work in more than automotive if I need to.”
McMillan graduated from Wayne State University in 2014, after receiving a full-ride, transfer scholarship. He’s been at Continental for four years, working as a software testing engineer and components test engineer before he was promoted to his current position, in which he is responsible for implementing test strategies.
“It’s a dynamic environment, always changing,” says McMillan. “The company will pay my tuition if I want to go back to school. My goal now is to earn an MBA so that when I’m ready to retire, I can teach at a community college.”
That new direction, he notes, is partly attributable to the experience he had at Macomb.
“I would recommend starting at a community college to anyone. The faculty are just as good as those at a four-year school, and they helped me figure out what I wanted to do,” says McMillan. “In a short amount of time, I learned quite a bit.”
His skills as a certified mechanic, however, still come in handy. McMillan drives a Chevy Volt to work, but began racing his turbocharged Dodge Neon SRT-4 last year. He intends to do the same with his Eagle Talon and Yamaha FJ-O9 motorcycle.
“I’ve always liked cars. My dad was always into them and he got me interested,” says McMillan, who shares his Chesterfield Township home with Smokey, the cat. “It used to be just a hobby, but it’s been a lot of fun turning it into a career.”