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January 10, 2018 1:38 PM

Conestoga engineering students complete co-op terms at Tesla

Rob Boulos, a Bachelor of Engineering - Mechanical Systems Engineering (MSE) student, recently completed his first co-op term at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada; he was among four Conestoga students working at Tesla locations throughout the U.S. during the fall term, and one of the first co-op students to work at the Gigafactory.
Conestoga College - Tesla Co-op Students - Fall 2017.jpg
Mechanical Systems Engineering students Rob Boulos and Ashmeed Mohamed are the first Conestoga co-op students to work at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada.

“I knew that working for Tesla would help me in many ways: it would elevate my skills, my resume, and my experience all at the same time,” said Boulos. “Tesla is in the unique position of being at the cutting edge of technology while still being a startup firm - so although Tesla is a company known around the world, it is still growing and has opportunities for employees to get involved in many areas.”

Tesla is focused on accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy through affordable electric vehicles and renewable energy generation and storage. To meet its planned production rate of 500,000 electric vehicles per year, the automaker requires the current worldwide supply of lithium-ion batteries. The new Gigafactory opened in 2016 and is expected to supply enough batteries to support Tesla’s vehicle demand.

“The most rewarding part of this experience has been all the things I've learned by working at Tesla. This was my first co-op experience - to the surprise of myself and others - and my challenge was to hit the ground running and be useful from day one,” explained Boulos, who was tasked with design assignments and project management duties. “Before this co-op I never once considered that project management would be something I'd be interested in; however, I began to undertake management opportunities as an intern here and was soon receiving tasks not usually trusted to interns. I believe that what I've learned at Tesla will help me very much in steering my career towards project management positions.”

Boulos and another MSE student, Ashmeed Mohamed, are the first Conestoga co-op students to work at the Gigafactory. Other degree students from Conestoga’s School of Engineering and Information Technology have also completed co-op terms at Tesla’s Fremont and Palo Alto locations.

David Eelman, a Bachelor of Engineering - Electronic Systems Engineering student, and MSE student Thimira Jayathilake recently finished Fall 2017 co-op terms in Palo Alto. It was Eelman’s second co-op placement with Tesla, and Jayathilake has secured his second placement which will start later in 2018.

“I always knew I would be extremely proud to be involved in Tesla’s mission,” said Jayathilake. “I have developed a much bigger appreciation for technologies that make the world a better, cleaner, more sustainable environment for our future. These aspects are the DNA of Tesla vehicles. They are designed to excite everyone while being responsible for transitioning transportation technology towards a sustainable future."

Jayathilake works with a small craftsmanship team that connects design engineering and quality engineering, and focuses on build quality and the way customers perceive quality. “Often times they are not the same thing,” he explained. “My role is to perform duties to support full-time engineers within the team, but I also had the opportunity to lead projects of my own.”

“If you want to be successful at Tesla, be persistent in asking for more responsibility,” said Boulos when asked what advice he would offer other students. “You could be here four months recording cycle times, or you can ask for tasks that carry weight. You will be more stressed out, but you will grow, and that's the attitude they look for when they interview candidates.”

More than 50 Conestoga programs offer a co-op component, resulting in more than 2,000 placements annually. Co-op work terms allow students to directly apply their classroom learning in a workplace setting, helping prepare them for full-time employment after graduation.

“Each student has a co-op services team to assist them with securing meaningful co-op work terms and we are all very pleased with the success of our students who are working at Tesla and with our employer partners throughout the region,” said Melissa Deneault, an employer relations consultant with Conestoga’s Co-operative Education team.

The team includes a co-op advisor who assists with job search strategy, interview preparation, and resume and cover letter writing; an employer relations consultant who provides labour market information, coaches students and liaises with employers to evaluate and post work term employment opportunities; and an employer relations officer who handles the administration of the co-op recruitment process such as posting jobs, scheduling interviews and facilitating job offers.  

For a list of Conestoga co-op programs, visit the college’s website.

Conestoga is the only college in Ontario to offer accredited engineering degree programs. The Mechanical Systems Engineering and Electronic Systems Engineering degree programs feature small classes, project-based learning and co-op work experience to prepare graduates for success in their chosen fields.

Visit the School of Engineering and Information Technology for more information.

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