Imagine you are driving onto a highway from a quiet country road. As you step on the gas to merge into traffic, you hear the sweet sound of your growling engine and feel the force driving you back in the seat. This is exactly what alumnus Robert Hilton ‘14 wants to replicate with the software he created to improve vehicle performance. With a lot of hard work and a strong will, Hilton launched his business, Hilton Tuning, just two months after graduation.
This video shows how a Volvo performs with and without Hilton’s tuning software.
Hilton developed the product while still a student in the University’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture. He wanted to make his Volvo S60R go faster, but there was nothing on the market to help him do that. So, he created his own solution. Using lessons from classes, online research, and trial-and-error, he worked through the development process. The scope of the project was a lot bigger than he originally anticipated, as he faced challenges with loading the tuning software into the vehicle’s computer.
“There were many times where I just wanted to give up,” Hilton admits. “But friends at the University helped me keep going.” Hilton’s advisor, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ying Yu, also encouraged him to pursue his dream and continue developing the project. Two years after starting the development process, he presented the software to the American Society for Engineering Education conference as part of his senior project. Then, he opened his business.
“Since day one, it has been profitable and I have only received positive customer feedback,” says Hilton. He is now selling to people all over the world and has plans to target a wider customer base such as BMW and Mercedes owners.
Hilton admits launching the business wasn’t easy and he faced an uphill battle building reputation and name recognition. In addition, he works full-time as a network administrator for the Manchester Public School System and it is challenging to balance the two jobs. However, he grew up in a family where his dad owned a business and worked a second job, sohefeels inspired and motivated to work hard to pursue his dreams. He says support from friends and family is important.
“My friends and professor at the University are the reason why I am successful; they believed in me and told me never to give up.”