The 2015 North American International Auto Show shifted into drive in Detroit on Monday, showcasing driverless cars, fully electric vehicles and an automotive industry beginning to rebound.

For several companies — including Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, formerly known as Chrysler — the presence of University alums runs deep.

Two former GM chief executive officers, Roger Smith and Frederick Henderson, are University alums, as well as Hal Sperlich, a former president of Chrysler.

Inside Cobo Hall on Tuesday, several employees of FCA emphasized the opportunities in the state’s automotive industry available to University students.

Though former University students work for a host of Detroit-based companies involved in the automotive industry, representatives from FCA were most immediately available on the floor of the Auto Show.

“Detroit is the birthplace of the automotive industry,” said University alum Erica Crane, a communication lead for FCA at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant.

“Being at the Auto Show today, it was clearer than ever to me that it’s going to be a huge part of the city’s future,” Crane added. “I know I want to be a part of that, and U of M students tend to be on the cutting edge of things like technology, engineering, and even the liberal arts. Those skills can all be applied in the automotive industry.”

President Barack Obama visited the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant Jan. 6 to laud the auto industry resurgence. In his speech, Obama cited the industry’s recovery as an example of America’s recovery post-economic recession.

Vice President Joe Biden visited the Auto Show Jan. 15, 2014. There, he spoke of similar themes of recovery in the auto industry and praised automakers for creating middle-class jobs amid economic downturn.

University alum Tom Finelli initially planned to pursue aerospace engineering, but when he graduated in 1992 there were not many jobs in the field. After a few career moves, and returning to school for his business degree, he became the vice president of purchasing and supplier quality for FCA.

“Michigan and the metro Detroit area have a lot to offer, even outside of the opportunities within Chrysler,” he said. “We have really made an effort to promote not only Detroit but the state of Michigan and the advantages that young people have by living here. You can see here everyday in the city of Detroit the rebirth that is going on.”

Finelli said like Detroit, the auto industry is on the rise — and as the companies grow, so does their demand for workers. The job market has continued to grow so extensively in Southeastern Michigan that it’s becoming difficult for FCA to find enough talent in the area, he added.

University alum Brian Johnson, the executive business planner in Purchasing and Supplier Quality for FCA, echoed Finelli’s sentiments and stressed that students don’t need to leave the state to find jobs. He made reference to the book “Acres of Diamonds” by Russel Connell, which he said “talks about this guy that goes and searches the whole world to find his diamonds when they’re really right under his feet.”

“I kind of equate that to the automotive industry; what we have in Detroit where there’s a great opportunity for students that are graduating here,” Johnson said. “The opportunity that exists in the automotive industry is huge.”

FCA is one of many employers that actively recruit University students. Crane found her job after participating in Chrysler internship program.

“There’s so many jobs, even if they’re not in automotive, that are connected to automotive,” she said. “At the Auto Show, I ran into fellow U of M students who were reporters, who were product specialists, who were there for all sorts of different functions, all because it was an automotive-based event.”

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