From Hot Wheels to Honda: NJIT Senior Finds His Dream Job

NJIT Senior Savio Rozario Hired by Honda to Design Car Exteriors

When he was a boy growing up in Bangladesh, Savio Rozario loved to play with toy cars.  He’d while away endless hours playing with his Hot Wheels®.  Just the way the cars looked – their cool designs – captured his boyish imagination.  And as he got older, in high school, his obsession continued. 

So when it came time for him to apply to college and chose a major, Savio knew what he wanted: to study mechanical engineering and to one day work as an automotive engineer -- designing cars.  It was his boyhood dream and he held tight to it.  And now, years later, his dream has become an actuality.

Honda Motors recently offered Savio, a senior at NJIT, a job working as a design engineer.  In August, he’ll begin working in Honda’s Research and Development Center in Raymond, Ohio.  

“It’s my dream job and I can’t wait to start,” says Savio, his eyes brightening at the prospect.  “I was lucky to have had some great mechanical engineering professors here who made learning fun.  I learned so much from my computer-aided design classes (CAD) and from the Cad Lab. That’s what helped me get the job.”

In the below interview, Savio talks about mechanical engineering, his journey to America from Bangladesh and how he was able to land his dream job designing cars for Honda.

Why did your family leave Bangladesh?
My parents had a good life in Bangladesh.  My father was a doctor and my mom was a school teacher.  But after I graduated from high school, they came to America so that I and my two sisters could get the best college education.  Bangladesh is still a poor country and the colleges there aren’t great. We also had an extended family living in America, in New Jersey.  That’s why we came here.

And why did you pick NJIT?
I knew I wanted to study mechanical engineering and NJIT is a top-ranked engineering school.  My uncle, an MIT-trained engineer, also advised me to apply to NJIT.  Looking back now, I see what a good decision it was to come here.  

Can you talk about your mechanical engineering education?
The professors in the department are awesome.  Professor Harry Kountouras is a fantastic teacher and adviser for most of the clubs, which give students a chance to work on hands-on projects.  Professor Herli Surjanhata, who runs the Cad Lab, helped me master CAD and machine design.  He makes learning fun -- easy to grasp new concepts.  I hadn’t seen Professor Surjanhata for a year and yet when I ran into him recently he said to me: “How are you, Savio?” He takes an interest in his students.  When I started my co-op at Honda, they told me that from the moment I walked onto the plant floor I’d be treated like a professional engineer and asked to solve tough problems.  But because of what my professors taught me, I was confident.

How did you get the co-op job at Honda?
I applied for it on Honda’s website. A co-op is like an internship, except it’s a full time and paid. The summer before, I worked an internship at Sadat Associates, an engineering and environmental science consultant based in Trenton.  I did a lot work in CAD during that internship.  Maybe that helped me, because in August a recruiter from Honda called me, right before the semester was to start and offered me a co-op job working in Honda’s engine plant in Anna, Ohio.   I didn’t know what to do, but my advisers told me the offer was a golden opportunity.  I thought about it and took the job.

Did you take classes during your internship?
That fall semester I didn’t take any classes.  The co-op was supposed to last for three months, but I liked it so much I applied for another.  I wound up working two back to back co-op jobs for seven months.  During the second co-op, I took two online NJIT classes and another class at a local college, to maintain my credits.  I’m now finishing up two final classes and will get my degree in August. 

What kind of things did you work on during your co-ops?
They hired me because I knew AutoCAD.  Honda is updating all its equipment and its plant layout and they use CAD for that work.  My main focus was to support the installation of new equipment in the plant – the equipment used to build car parts.  Car makers are always updating their equipment, their processes and their plants because they are always updating their cars. 

When you begin work as a full-time design engineer, what will your main job be?
Generally, I’ll work on the mechanical analysis of the exterior of the cars.  I also work with auto stylists regarding how the cars are to look.  I’ll essentially help engineer the bodies, or the exteriors of the car.

How did you get a full time job offer from Honda?
During my co-op at the Anna Engine Plant, I applied for a full-time job in Research and Development, working on upper body design.  The upper body of the car is what you see from outside, the exterior. There’s another Honda unit that works on the underside of the exterior, the part you don’t see.   I underwent two days of interviews.  I competed against 150 candidates (from the U.S., Canada and England) for the job, but I got the offer in February.

How many years have you been at NJIT?  Didn’t working a seven-month long co-op delay your graduation?
No, I’ve been here four years.  I came into NJIT with a lot of AP credits from my high school in Bangladesh. 

How does it feel to achieve your boyhood dream?
I can hardly believe my good fortune. This is my dream come true.  How many people realize their dreams at such a young age?

Last question: What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a 1999 Honda Accord Coup!

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)