TubeFilter: YouTube Millionaires: On The Engineering Explained Channel, “Every Sentence Has Value”

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By Sam Gutelle

December 15, 2016

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.

What do you do if you have an engineering degree and a strong interest in cars? If you’re Jason Fenske, you start a YouTube channel on which you teach viewers about the science of automobiles. Fenske is the man behind Engineering Explained, on which he explains the mechanics that make our vehicles go and shares his own adventures in the automotive world. Fenske, who is partnered with the GarageMonkey network, is part of a burgeoning community of car enthusiasts on YouTube. Here are some of his words on how he fits into his niche:


Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?

Jason Fenske: Once numbers get to a certain point, it’s difficult to fathom. 30 people fit in a classroom. Movie theaters can sit a couple hundred. Football stadiums in the tens of thousands. But a million is something completely different. I do a lot of traveling for the channel, and so I try to grab the sheer size of the audience when I’m flying into cities. Flying over Austin, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Charlotte – these are all cities with less than a million people, so you can look out the window and see all the homes, and know that even more than that is watching your channel. It’s incredible!

To my subscribers, I simply must say thank you for your curiosity, for adding to the conversation, for sharing your knowledge with me, for always trying to learn and improve yourself, and for sharing the content with your friends. That’s what it’s all about to me. We’re all curious people and we just want to learn. I spend a lot of time researching, and share what I learn with this crowd. I absolutely love the interaction.

TF: What is your engineering background, and what made you decide to share your knowledge on YouTube?

JF: I went to school for mechanical engineering and graduated in 2012 from North Carolina State University. Originally I started the YouTube channel as a passion project that I could point to on my resume and say, “Look, see, I spend time outside of school doing things relating to engineering, because it excites me!” It was a fantastic discussion piece in job interviews and definitely got me my first real job.

I was an application engineer and a test engineer for a forklift company for two years. One of my most educational experiences there was designing a liquid cooling system for an electric forklift, which were traditionally air-cooled. Quite a challenge! But our truck hasn’t yet overheated to my knowledge, years after the prototype build.

TF: What do you think is the most common misconception people have about how their cars work?

JF: Probably that modern cars do everything for you. Driver aids are great, and a common discussion topic in car culture these days is that cars drive themselves. First off, that would be fantastic, as there are plenty of people out there who don’t enjoy driving. I’m all for things going autonomous, as long as I still have my six speed with three pedals!

The Nissan GT-R often comes up in this discussion: “It’s a computer, it drives itself, requires no talent.” Most of these people have probably never driven the car, or driven it hard. You still need to know what you’re doing! I drove a 458, GT3, Gallardo, and GT-R back to back on a track. The only car I almost went off the track on was the GT-R, as I braked too hard going into a corner and had to counter the understeer I caused. The car doesn’t drive itself, it’s a humbling experience to drive one at speed. The car is way more capable than I am. A better driver would run circles around me, even if we both had all the “aids” enabled.

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