Evan Downs said he developed his love for learning from the teachers at Westminster Schools of Augusta. Today, that passion is paying huge dividends.
In January 2019, the Westminster alumnus started a cooperative education program with BMW’s Manufacturing Plant in Spartanburg, SC.
Primarily working in software development, Downs, the valedictorian of the Class of 2016, helped build a web application that displays live data entry errors to allow the facility to easily identify and correct potential mistakes in production.
The application has saved the company close to $4 million dollars to date.
“I greatly value the faculty and the opportunity I received to pursue rigorous academics with a Christian emphasis at Westminster,” Downs said. “Because the teachers had deep passions for their subjects, I became more passionate about learning the material.”
Downs, who expects to graduate in December from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, said his time at BMW has possibly ignited a new passion.
Other BMW projects Downs has worked on include developing a machine learning model to predict manufacturing defects in more than 100 possible categories and constructing a detection system that flags irregular assembly patterns to help prevent lost cars and recognize problematic vehicles.
“I have enjoyed my work with BMW … so much that I have chosen to pursue a career in data analytics,” said Downs, who is in his third and final rotation with the automobile company and in the process of applying to graduate programs for a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics.
Since graduating from Westminster, Downs said he has continued to grow his faith and his passion for the fine arts. He is a member of Georgia Tech’s Chamber Choir, all-male a cappella group Sympathetic Vibrations, and Reformed University Fellowship, a Christian ministry on campus.
With the Chamber Choir, Downs has gone on tours to California and overseas to Cyprus. During the Cyprus tour, the choir performed at high schools, universities, and U.S. Embassy events to advocate to international students about science and arts education in the United States, and show how music can be a unifying force and shared across cultural differences.
Downs is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society and Nu Chapter of Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honors Society at Georgia Tech.
“During my time at Westminster, I gained a great understanding of how to handle academic rigor, and most importantly, I have learned how to defend and grow in my faith,” Downs said. “The teachers showed how a Christian perspective can be applied to every subject, which is truly special.”