Don’t Let the ‘Check Engine Light’ Worry You Again

Georgia Tech Engineering students start a car app company.

Co-founders Rachel Ford and John Gattuso assess car problems with FIXD.

We’ve all been hit by that infernal ‘check engine light.’ It always seems to spark that internal debate: should you drive on and assume a loose connection or take out a loan for the impending catastrophe?

You would think in the year 2014 there would be a more informative method to express car issues to a driver. Noticing this absence, a group of Georgia Tech students set out to create their own informational solution.

Engineering students Rachel Ford and John Gattuso are co-founders of FIXD. The company has created a device that hooks up to a car’s diagnostic port. Once plugged in, FIXD connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. The app will be available for Andriod and Iphone this coming November and March, respectively.

The app assess the cause of the check engine light and relays the information to the user. Most would be satisfied here, but not this Georgia Tech team. Their app also expresses how serious the problem is and gives a cost estimate for the repairs. The system even creates an update schedule for your car’s regular repairs and maintenance.

This project started about a year ago when Ford, Gattuso and friend Kevin Miron were taking a Georgia Tech course called Startup Lab. This course is designed to take student ideas and nurture them into start-ups. This course covers various topics including product discovery and sustainable business. Teams are given workspaces, $15,000 and a mentor. Better still, despite the university’s financial input, students can claim 100% control and ownership of the company.

 “What we’re doing now is extremely different from our technical engineering classes,” Ford said. “We would not have been able to do any of this without the startup classes and programs Georgia Tech offered us.” Currently, their project has topped their initial $30,000 Kickstarter goal and is looking for investors.

Interestingly, this was not the team’s first idea. Originally they were looking to create a medical device to assist women in self-breast exams. However, after target audience interviews this project had become unfeasible.

The team worked instead on FIXD which has grown to have a fourth classmate on the team, Rikin Marfatia. Gattuso said, “Tons of other Georgia Tech students have ideas for startups … They just need to be pushed off the ledge to try and do it.”

What would you make if your school offered such a course? Comment below.

Source: Georgia Tech

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.