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Hands-on experience on FSAE team helped Hyslop prepare for career

Since he was a young boy growing up in Dexter, Mo., Ryan Hyslop has been fascinated with cars and machines.

Ryan Hyslop with a Cummins engine in Australia earlier this year. Photo by Murray Clifford, Cummins Inc.

Hyslop, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science in 2008, has continued that passion into his career at Cummins Inc., where he is a service engineer for the new QSK95 high-speed diesel engine, the biggest engine the company has ever produced. Based in Columbus, Ind., Cummins manufactures diesel and alternative fuel engines for a variety of uses, as well as turbochargers, generators and other engine components and equipment.

Working with engines is second nature after four years as a member of the Wash U Formula SAE race car team, which he says taught him a variety of aspects of engineering — from mechanical to electrical to thermal and combustion engineering.

As part of the Cummins team working on the new engine, Hyslop spent several months of this year in Australia conducting field tests and working with both the engines and the customers.

“The engine is so large that the generator set it powers can effectively replace electrical grid power, so we used it in a remote part of Australia where they didn’t even have power lines,” he says. “We were seven hours from civilization at an iron ore mine where they had their own diesel engine power station.”
But he doesn’t complain about the working conditions.

“I'd rather be in a 130-degree power station in the Australian outback than sitting behind a desk in the air conditioning,” he says. “I've always been more of a hands-on engineer, and Cummins allows me to be right in the middle of the action.”

In his previous position at Cummins, Hyslop worked on the engines for the Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups and chassis-cab trucks.

“I'd develop a new calibration in a test cell, walk out to a prototype truck and upload it, and then take it for a drive to evaluate my changes,” he says. “I was in charge of parts of the engine calibration, but my piece of the puzzle interacted with emissions control devices, the transmission, on-board diagnostics systems (that set the ‘check engine light’ if something goes wrong), and most importantly, the driver. I'd go from analyzing emissions certification cycles one week to driving trucks on development test trips and turning wrenches with our technicians in Death Valley, California, the next.”

While working in rural Australia was a challenge, Hyslop says it didn’t compare to Wash U’s academic demands. The rigorous curriculum really prepares you to work in a demanding job when you graduate,” he says.

Hyslop credits Pat Harkins, technician in the school's machine shop, for helping him to get where he is today.
“Working in the shop is really good experience for an engineer, because you get knowledge beyond what you get in a textbook,” he says. “Pat was the bridge between the class and the textbook and the real world.”
He also credits the Wash U Formula SAE race car team.

“The best thing I could have done in the four years at Wash U to prepare me for this job was being on the Formula SAE team,” Hyslop says. “The hands-on experience, working with engines and data acquisition systems, working with the team and under a budget and leading small projects all helped me prepare me for this job.”