By Stephanie Sokol for OU Engineering
After graduating from Oakland University in 1999, Engineering undergrad David Shirkey landed a job with Chrysler. He credits the opportunity partially to his experience with OU’s Formula SAE.
“I was able to leverage experience with Oakland FSAE into a job at Chrysler,” Shirkey said. “We took the car to an automotive event at Cobo arena, and some Chrysler executives were there. I had a picture taken there with me and my teammates. I sent that picture to the manufacturing vice president at Chrysler, and that was my foot in the door.
“Anyone who knows or has been involved in FSAE knows that those are the kind of students you want to hire, because they’ve already shown the initiative to volunteer, and take their own time to build and design something.”
Shirkey was an SAE member since his freshman year. But as a junior, he joined the Formula team to compete.
With the help of his group, after months of hard work and obstacles, they created their car, #311. In the process, they made OU history as the first team to make it to the competition.
Not only was the experience enjoyable and great for networking, but it also brought out topics taught in OU’s classes, taking Shirkey’s studies to the next level.
“I definitely would say that my FSAE experience was the strongest project and event I was involved in as an engineering student,” Shirkey said. “It brought to reality many of the topics we had been studying in the classroom involving construction and strength of materials, and assembly processes. Many engineering theories were built into the race car, and it was a great opportunity in learning how to work with a team.”
Currently, Shirkey works for Orbitform, a company that designs and builds assembly solutions for manufacturing. After three years at his first job with Chrysler, he took a new job as a project manager and engineer at Orbitform, when Chrysler requested large orders from the company.
After working many roles with the company, he became CFO of Orbitform in 2011.
Owned by Orbitform, Pit Products manufactures storage equipment for trailers and garages. Going back to his roots, through Shirkey, Pit Products will be outfitting OU’s current FSAE racing team with trailer cabinets, tire racks and other storage accessories.
While campus life was one of Shirkey’s favorite elements of Oakland University, he also liked the school’s location— which is close to many engineering and manufacturing related businesses seeking workers.
With persistence, students can really stand out and make connections, he said.
“As soon as you reach out, you’ll find opportunities,” Shirkey said. “Look for extra curricular activities like formula, as a way to differentiate yourself.”
David Shirkey welcomes contact from current OU Engineering students and alumni. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org