For 23 years, Tom Smith (Mechanical Engineering ’96) has been working at Ford Motor Company. As the automotive industry grows and changes, Tom’s work has changed too. But he takes each change with an inspiring perspective: “If something is worth doing for the Lord, it is worth doing right!”
His interest in math and physics began as a high school student. After visiting Pensacola Christian College during that time, he finalized his decision to attend and enrolled to study mechanical engineering, taking a first step toward his career. As a sophomore, Tom struggled with some of the engineering classes and failed a Materials Science (EG 201) exam. Dr. Joel Porcher, an engineering faculty member who taught the class, encouraged him to trust God’s calling and depend on His provision. Looking back, Tom said, “That was a turning point for me, it caused me to trust in the Lord to do what I couldn’t do.”
After graduating in 1996, Tom Smith married his wife, Sheleen, and began working with Parker, one of Ford’s Tier 1 automotive suppliers. After three years, he moved directly into Ford Motor Company and was later promoted to Engineering Supervisor in Electrified Systems, overseeing electric vehicle battery development. “[There is a] cataclysmic shift in our industry from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV),” he explained. “We have to balance the rapidly changing technology with the evolving customer needs.”
While engineering classes prepared Tom for the automotive industry, the spiritual nurturing that PCC provided was invaluable. One of his favorite classes was Revelation (BI 414) with Dr. [Joel] Mullenix. Through this and other similar classes, God prepared him for service. “My time at PCC played a critical part in my biblical foundation,” Tom said. “Classes like Life of David (BI 233) and Bible Doctrines (BI 321, 322) were very impactful.”
He currently assists Parkview Baptist (MI), his home church, by directing the choir, teaching Sunday school, and serving as a deacon. Tom and Sheleen also lead a young couples class. They are encouraged by the full circle they’ve seen in the teens’ lives throughout their time in ministry. “Many of the teens that we worked with have [since] graduated from PCC and are now back serving alongside us in our local church,” he said. “The Lord has woven PCC throughout not only my life, but the church in which I serve.”
Tom Smith’s education and training have helped him to excel in his field, earning 25 patents and having published several articles with the Society of Automotive Engineers. Despite this, he’s more grateful for the support that PCC provided. “My time at PCC helped me to develop into a well-rounded individual; it was more than just an engineering program,” he said. “I am most thankful for how PCC prepared me as a Christian to serve in my local church and how PCC has prepared those around me to serve beside me.”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.