Kristin Kolodge (Schwalbach)
- BS Mechanical Engineering 1995
Kristin Kolodge (Schwalbach) graduated from Michigan Tech in 1995 with her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After attending Women in Engineering during Summer Youth Programs, she was hooked. Michigan Tech was the only school she applied to.
Kolodge’s career started as a contract employee for Chrysler and was hired on directly several months later. She spent 19 years at Chrysler, working to create the human-machine interface (HMI) process and lead safety investigations and campaigns. She became Chrysler’s point of contact with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2000, Kolodge completed a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Michigan Dearborn.
She shifted into a new role as executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface at J.D. Power in 2014, where she served as a global thought leader for HMI, driver interaction, emerging technology, and mobility disruptors.
After seven years in that position, Kolodge was promoted to vice president for auto benchmarking and mobility development. In that role, she is J.D. Power’s practice leader for the industry-renowned automotive quality studies that provide insight into the customers’ experience with their vehicle.
“MTU taught me how to figure things out and not back away when there is not a clear path forward,” she said. “So many of my career assignments have been ones in which the script was yet to be written, and I can say that those assignments are the ones in which I have the most pride.”
Kolodge has authored or co-authored numerous publications on HMI and related topics. She was also responsible for the creation of emPower Me and emPower Community Employee Resource Groups at J.D. Power, which are respectively focused on personal/professional development and giving back to the local community.
In addition to the academic rigor, Kolodge’s Michigan Tech experience was shaped largely by her affiliation with Delta Zeta sorority. “The organization taught me so many life skills that remain relevant to me today. Who knew how many transferable skills you can learn from building Winter Carnival statues? Ideation, time management, team motivation, sportsmanship, and other lessons.”
Kolodge has maintained close ties with Michigan Tech. She is a member and president emerita of the Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors. Additionally, she has been an active recruiter of Tech students and served on the Michigan Tech Career Advisory Board.
“My reasons to stay engaged with MTU may be selfish in nature,” she said. “I thrive on the energy that comes from the engagement with MTU, whether the engagement is on campus or supporting the University from afar. I want others to experience the life-changing growth that I did while at MTU and that growth continues to occur through my interactions with the University today.”
Updated August 2023