Published: Jan. 16, 2024 By

Logan Thompson (MechEngr'17), now living in Berlin as a senior mechanical design engineer for vehicle battery systems at Tesla, took seven years to complete his undergrad degree. He said he's grateful for the variety of experiences he's had. 

"In real time, it felt awful, constantly resetting and getting pushback from friends and family who felt that I was afraid of the real world," he said. 

But, borrowing from Steve Jobs, he explained that you can only really connect the dots in reverse. He now sees the point of loving poetry, English and law, of being fascinated by the scientific method and economics and innovation, and in turning away from "safer" established professions to follow a company like Tesla. 

"The things that I did, even my 'bad' ideas that I trusted a well-reasoned heart for, none of those have turned out to be regrets," he said. 

Seven years in undergrad

Thompson started his path to higher education through Red Rocks Community College before transferring to the University of Colorado Denver and eventually to the University of Colorado Boulder, arriving here four years after graduating from high school. His path zigged and zagged as he struggled to select a major.

Even after coming in Boulder, he didn't want to pick between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and so he straddled the two for most of his college career, taking over 21 credits most semesters in order to do so. 

He became interested in biofuels after an internship with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and learned about CAD design through an internship with Tesla, which led him to switch his major to Mechanical Engineering.

Most of the best experiences Thomspon said he had were unpaid. As examples, he said shadowing a doctor showed him that he didn't want to work in a hospital setting, while building a satellite helped him get his dream job at Tesla. 

Working at Tesla

For the first several years at Tesla, Thompson worked on designing batteries the size of shipping containers for use in a power grid. Now he works at a Gigafactory in Berlin on vehicle battery platforms.

Thompson said he personally believes that the more we can use public transport, the better, but since personal vehicles will remain necessary, he wants to move the paradigm from oil-based cars to electric ones.

Advice for the conflicted

"When I was in college, every decision felt so final," he said. But, in reality, choosing a path momentarily doesn't have to mean you can never go back. 

"It's true that if we go through one door, another one closes, but only for a while. We can go back and open other doors." he said. 

He also does not believe in telling people to 'follow your heart'. 

"Either you don't know what you want yet, or your heart is pulled in twelve different directions. My advice is to pick something and keep forward momentum. You can make different choices later, but you can't just sit and stare at your textbook in class."