In Detroit: How Does an Automotive Battery Engineer Work?
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On this season of Working, we left the East Coast behind to visit Detroit. We’re speaking with people who are drawing on the city’s complex history as they work to create its future.The automotive industry, which has arguably defined Detroit for generations, employs a dizzying array of professionals responsible for every aspect of car design and manufacture. We visited the General Motors battery lab, where we spoke with Mark Hughes, a recent chemical engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. Hughes describes himself as a “cell technical specialist.” In essence, he conducts forensics tests on failed batteries, mostly for fully electric cars such as the Chevrolet EV Bolt, though he sometimes works on hybrid vehicles as well. And while Hughes is primarily dealing with inorganic chemistry, some of the stories he tells us really do sound a lot like medical mysteries.Then, in a Slate Plus extra, Hughes talks about his own relationship to cars—and tells us what he drives. If you’re a member,…