Ahmed Ashmaig is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and co-president of the National Society of Black Engineers Boulder Chapter. He spent the fall 2021 semester participating in a co-op at Tesla in Fremont, California. Ashmaig shared what the experience was like and what he learned.
What was your role at Tesla and what projects were you tasked with?
I was a process engineering intern working mainly on the Model Y and Model X vehicles. I used software such as SolidWorks and Catia V5 to create tooling, which improves the seat manufacturing process. I would make CAD designs and 3D print the hardware for testing. I also proposed process changes which instilled Lean Six Sigma concepts. My goal was to make the seat assembly lines as efficient as possible by reducing waste, costs and headcount, while improving quality and safety.
What interested you in working at Tesla?
From day one, I was treated like a full-time employee rather than an intern. I was tasked with meaningful projects and my managers had high expectations for me. This was challenging at first, but also extremely rewarding. I knew that my results would have a real impact on both the success of the company and the acceleration of the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Also, the engineers’ desks are right above the production floor. I was able to create designs and immediately test them myself. Having a balance of computer work and human interaction is important to me and meant that I was never stuck in a cubicle all day.
How has what you’ve learned in your classes showed up in your work? And what did you learn during the co-op that you did not know before?
My Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) certification from my first year MCEN 1025: Computer-Aided Design and Fabrication class helped a ton. However, I realized that most learning is done on the job rather than in school. I would say that communication skills were most important during my time at Tesla, but it is something that is not traditionally taught in our classes. Instead, my group projects and club involvement helped me develop this skill.
What advice do you have for other students that may want to pursue a similar opportunity?
I would advise students to be confident in their skills and to apply anywhere and everywhere they would like. However, you can significantly improve your chances of being hired by making genuine connections with employees and hiring managers. Having a strong network is important and ensures that your applications are considered. Make sure to build your social media presence and connect with alumni, professors and students in careers and companies you’re interested in.
Connect with Ashmaig on LinkedIn through this link.