Q: Tell us about yourself

It’s always interesting to follow up with alumni and see what road EcoCAR 2 has led them down. Recently interviewed was Wayne State University graduate and former electrical engineering team member, Ashwin Sainathan.  During a Q and A, Sainathan talked about his experience with EcoCAR 2 and what he is doing now.

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Q: Can you tell us about your education? What did you study?

I did my Bachelor’s in electrical Engineering from Anna University, India following which i enrolled for my Master’s in Electric Drive Vehicle Engineering from Wayne State University (WSU).

Q: What are you currently doing with your career?

A: I am currently wrapping up my master’s degree in Electric Drive Vehicle Engineering at Wayne State University as well as finishing up my internship with Tesla Motors. Having gained valuable knowledge on electric vehicles and their components with my specialized masters degree and having the opportunity to do practical stuff with EcoCAR 2 and Telsa Motors, I feel confident in my ability to apply my skills in the electric/hybrid vehicle market and contribute in my own meaningful way towards a greener and cleaner environment.

Q: How did EcoCAR 2 help you?

A: I have to admit that EcoCAR 2 has played a very important role in my career.  It helped me understand the process involved in making hybrid cars, taught me how to work with a team of car enthusiasts, and enabled me to take classroom knowledge and directly apply it to the problem at hand. It gave me the platform to transition seamlessly into the auto industry. My EcoCAR 2 experience was pivotal in my interview performance – the interviewing manager for Telsa was very keen to know what I did as part of the EcoCAR 2 team.

Q: If you could tell future EcoCAR 2 members something great about the program, what would it be?

A: The multi-disciplinary nature of EcoCAR 2 teaches the flexibility to work cross-functionally with different groups in both engineering and business (which is key in the auto industry). If someone is hesitant to work for EcoCAR 2, then stop your second thoughts and just go join the team!

Q: What was the best part about your experience with EcoCAR 2?

A: Along with the right skills and unique technical experience, I also had the opportunity to make friends – not just at my university but also with students from other universities. By talking to them during the workshops, I gained great insight into their thought processes and how they do things. Another important aspect of EcoCAR 2 was the trainings given by industry experts during the workshops. There is no substitute for the trainings that EcoCAR 2 offers students, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn a lot during those.

Q:  What doors has this program opened for you and what have you learned from your experience?

A: EcoCAR 2 has given me the opportunity to learn what exactly I want. Many graduates don’t have a clue about what career they want to pursue after graduation, but because I had the opportunity to work on EcoCAR 2, I knew at graduation what kind of career I wanted. EcoCAR 2 also opened up a whole avenue of unique work experience on hybrid vehicle development that many people don’t have.

Q: What are your future goals?

A: Now that I have graduated, my goal is to find the right job in hybrid/electric vehicle segment and put my experience to use. My ultimate goal would be to work on different hybrid powertrain technologies and further enhance my engineering skills. At a later stage, I would like to integrate managerial skills with my technical skills by pursuing studies in management.