Some innovations were well ahead of their time. Long before the Teslas, Hondas and Toyotas  launched their electric models, a relatively unknown Electric car debuted in India in 2001, without any hype or fanfare. Though it wasnt exactly a success story, Reva was a unique concept for Indian customers without any frills. You got what you saw, no flamboyance whatsoever !

Jagadeesha, our next pathbreaker tells  Shyam Krishnamurthy  from The Interview Portal about his career journey from being a Reva employee to a R&D Vehicle Build Engineer at Mahindra Electric Mobility. Read on to find out how he joined Reva and what he does as Electric Vehicle Build Engineer.

Jagadeesha, tell us about yourself

I hail from a small village in Bellari district. My father is a government employee in the irrigation department and my mom is a homemaker. I studied in kannada medium till 10th std.

What did you study after school?

My initial plan was to study for law. I wanted to do my bachelors and then get a law degree. But my uncle intervened and asked me to pursue a technical degree. He asked me to enrol in a polytechnic college and learn vocational skills.

I applied to Sandur Polytechnic College which is one of the best colleges in Bellary district. They were also taking people from rural areas in Bellary district. I had to write a written exam, they were conducting exams in Kannada and English medium because applicants from outside Karnataka were also applying. Based on my performance in the exam and my 10th std marks i was selected by the college. Now i had to decide what stream to select for the polytechnic degree. One of my neighbours had suggested Computer Science saying it had a lot of potential, this was in 2002. But i was keen on taking mechanical because i wanted a job after college and Mech was the best stream for placements. Since i had to put 3 choices of streams for the final interview, i put CSE, ECE and Mech in that order.

How was the experience at Sandur Polytechnic College?

In the final interview, i was offered CSE based on my first choice. However i told the panel that i was interested in Mechanical stream only and if i didnt get it i would not join the course. Though the panel was inititally reluctant, one of HODs in the panel, seeing that i was stubborn, agreed to give me the Mechanical stream.

So i ended up getting the Mechanical stream. But my troubles had just started. Since the college was in English medium and there are students from all over India i wasnt able communicate with them very well. Moreover since our exams were in English i couldnt communicate my answers well and did poorly in my exams. It was a very tough moment for me. Some of my professors called me over and spoke to me explaining how far i had come and that i had to take it as a challenge and learn English and that was the only way out if i wanted to be successful.

So i started learning English on my own 3-4 hours a day and slowly i started speaking, writing and communicating in English. Moreover i loved all the subjects taught in the course. There were 14 subjects, all related to Mechanical, such as thermodynamics, CAD/CAM, Engineering Drawing, Fluid Dynamics etc. So my only obstacle was communication. I was very good at practicals, especially Engineering Drawing. After a lot of effort i ended up finishing my final exms with distinction and became a role model for juniors.

How did you get your first break?

After finishing my polytechnic degree in 2005, i came to Bangalore and applied for an off-campus job in another college and got an offer from Videocon. At Videocon i was working in the production department responsible for compressor assembly in their refrigerator division.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?

Around the time i joined Videocon an idea was forming in my mind to pursue an engineering degree and i was also interested in the automobile sector. I wanted to explore the mechanical field deeper and hence felt that an engineering degree would help. Though my dad was a bit reluctant as i already had a good job my mom felt it was a good idea. I assured them that i would study for engineering while working.

I took the CET entrance exam and did well. Due to good rank and rural quota i had lots of choices. Though i knew i wanted Mechanical engineering i was confused about which college to select. Finally i selected MVJ college at Whitefield, Bangalore which had a good Mechanical Engineering department. It was also near Attibele and since i was going to work it was easier for me to commute from work. For 1.5 years i worked night shifts and studied during the day. I graduated in 2009.

Tell us about your career path in detail.

One of main reasons i had selected MVJ college was General Motors which was in Whitefield. They used to visit MVJ for campus interviews. But the year i graduated they didnt come to campus. Moreover 2009 was a very bad time to graduate because the job market was dull.

I applied for a job posted on the notice board for an interview at Reva Motors, an Electric Car company. We had an entrance exam that required detailed answers on concepts such as thick welding and so on and so forth. I cleared the exam because the test was based on concepts and i was good in fundamentals. I got through the interview and joined Reva as a Trainee Engineer.

Tell us about your work

At Reva , we had several departments in car manufacturing such as design, R&D, production, prototype, testing, validation. I was in the prototype department. I would have to interact with other departments and responsible for building a complete car from individual parts. I was involved in prototype manufacturing of chassis frame, sheet metal body, ABS body panels, suspension & assembly of manufactured proto components on the vehicle as well as generating prototypes of various parts and assemblies with the help of CAD drawing to the highest accuracy. Our team also coordinates with new product development team for modification of components needed for speedy proto building. We also coordinate with design dept for manufacturing feasibility of designs. One such instance was the development of prototype of NXR- four seater car from the two seater reva NXR chassis , which involved a major modification in a chassis.

So it was very interesting because i got to see the final product and also interact with all other departments getting their inputs. And most importantly, i got to see how the car looked finally. For example i could see how brakes and suspensions were assembled and then fit into a car and how they worked.

After 6 months Reva got taken over by Mahindra and all Reva employees moved to Mahindra under Mahindra Electric Mobility. Since then i have been working there and its been 10 years. Iam currently in the prototype and validation department and responsible for overseeing the lifecycle of manufacturing (PDLC) from design to rollout of a vehicle.

We have to deal with regulations, certifications, safety issues and other practical considerations before a car is rolled out. Iam also involved in stress testing of components such as batteries to estimate predicted life.

We have been involved in rollout of multiple models such as E2O, E2O- 2 door and i have also worked on several cars launched in the European market manufactured in India but based on European regulations. I work only on Electric vehicles.

How does your work benefit the society?

I work on Electric Vehicles which are the future of the Automobile industry. I feel iam privileged to be involved in making something that is beneficial to the environment and to people as well. We are already seeing less demand for regular cars and pollution issues in various parts of the world. When i feel that my work will address those problems it makes me happy.

What do you love about your job?

As i mentioned earlier, I have always been fascinated by automobiles. Hence when i got to work as an R&D engineer, i was thrilled at the opportunity. I work in the vehicle prototype build department, where each model has its own CFT (cross functional team). I am one of the members in that team and have had a good learning experience interacting with different departments like electric vehicles architecture, hardware and software. My main learning has been in vehicles development, from concept to SOP (start of production). It is always a proud moment when a product which was just a concept ends up in the hands of a customer. When a customer uses our products on the road it makes us proud to be a part of the entire development phase from concept to the end product. It’s a creative job and requires analytical skills as well as problem solving skills. During the initial phases we have lot of challenges like build issues, testing, durability and field failure.

Tell us about a memorable work you had done that is close to you?

There are several instances. There was a case where we had rattling in the doors of one of the car models that the customers complained about. We worked on thr problem and after lots of testing we fixed the issue in the next model of the car. When the customer told us that the rattling issue was fixed that was very motivating to me.

Your advice to students?

Don’t go with other people’s advice, go with your heart. Once you have decided to do something, do it with whole-heartedly to achieve your goals.

Be patient while studying, don’t give up until the end. Don’t worry about initial failures, just focus on what you need to do to make your life successful. Patience is a key for success.

Future plans?

First up all I want to be good human being and do good for society, i need to take care of my loveable mother, lovely wife and cute daughter.

I want to continue my professional journey in EV space in the coming years . After some years i want to become a lecturer to help students.

Children are the future rising stars of our nation.