Comments: 120 • Responses: 28 • Date: 2014-07-02 15:36:04 UTCsource
o1ekingcole16 karma2014-07-02 15:38:16 UTC
What was the most challenging part of working with Tesla and what was the overall morale like there?
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more_amps25 karma2014-07-02 15:52:04 UTC
You quickly learn that 50+ hour weeks are the norm for interns, with full-time engineers sometimes working even longer hours. You are given ownership of projects, which means you have to move fast and pick up new skills rapidly. The work is extremely rewarding though, and I got to meet and work with some of the brightest engineers I have met so far in my career.
Overall, the atmosphere is a fast-paced one, and I don't think I was ever bored, or feeling bottlenecked by any external factor.
AlexBerghe9 karma2014-07-02 15:44:19 UTC
What's your worst experience while working for Tesla Motors ? :D
more_amps17 karma2014-07-02 15:56:44 UTC
Not specifically Tesla-related, but I found that the housing situation for interns in the Bay Area can get rather dicey, especially when you don't have much of a rental history (college student living with parents, not much credit history, etc...), so moving in and actually finding a decent deal was difficult. Also, transportation around the Peninsula can be lacking, as it's mainly a patchwork of various public transit systems and company shuttles. I would say that Tesla's company shuttles were amazing, and definitely helped, along with biking and occasional driving.
simpat1zq5 karma2014-07-02 16:06:33 UTC
Were the shuttles EVs as well.
more_amps8 karma2014-07-02 16:09:22 UTC
No, they were biodiesel shuttles, though I would have been quite entertained if we started using prototype Model X's as shuttles!
Davedeaux8 karma2014-07-02 15:45:49 UTC
more_amps13 karma2014-07-02 16:06:59 UTC
hootyhoot1 karma2014-07-02 17:16:22 UTC
Have the Model S refinements you were working on already been rolled out into production? Were there any that didn't make the cut?
And more importantly, is there anything you can share about additional improvements rolling out in the future?
more_amps3 karma2014-07-02 20:07:37 UTC
I would venture to guess that the project I was working on (relating to the current measurement system on the high-voltage battery pack) is probably being actively tested on vehicles, if not already shipping in customer vehicles. As to future improvements, without going into specific project details, I'd definitely say a lot of it relates to reducing the cost of various components on the Model S, or reducing weight (and sometimes a combination of the two). As always, I am sure everyone also has their eye on the low-cost vehicle and the sorts of cost reduction it will need to be a viable product.
stayonthecloud4 karma2014-07-02 15:55:28 UTC
One of my close friends works for Elon. He's an awkward and demanding guy, but he genuinely wants to create a great deal of good in the world. That's the impression that I get.
Davedeaux3 karma2014-07-02 16:01:50 UTC
stayonthecloud2 karma2014-07-02 16:06:45 UTC
What's your skill set?
more_amps3 karma2014-07-02 16:15:15 UTC
Tl;dr: Mechanical design, robotics, firmware development, working with FPGA, CPLD and Microcontroller-based systems and doing board bring-up and debug.
When I started as a freshman in college, I was only going to do an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, with an Aerospace minor. I decided I enjoy writing firmware and working with electronics (power, FPGA's) enough that I also wanted to take Computer Engineering courses, and as it happened, my school offers a combined 5-year program where we finish the requirements for both an undergraduate and graduate degree. Based on that, I chose to go for a graduate degree in Computer Engineering as well. At this rate, I hope to graduate in a year or so, with some kind of EV-related design project under my belt, and a thesis involving controls work relating to Quadrotor UAV's.
Frame256 karma2014-07-02 15:58:55 UTC
There are all kinds of crazy exciting new battery technologies being researched (quinone-based organic flow batteries, nanoscale anodes for near-instant charging, etc). The gigafactories suggest Tesla is pouring its resources into cheapening Li-Ion batteries, but I was curious whether they're also planning the next leap ahead rather than just optimizing the current technology. Other than the "hybrid" extended-range battery we already know about, is Tesla currently doing research on, or even interested in, replacing their current-generation Li-Ion battery tech with next-generation battery technologies?
more_amps3 karma2014-07-02 18:31:16 UTC
You would have to take what I have to say on the matter with a grain of salt, since I worked in battery electronics and body controls (basically the team that deals with the BMS, state of charge tracking, pack conditioning, et. al), but there is a group that deals with cell characterization, so I would imagine various types of Li-ion chemistries are being constantly evaluated to see if we can get better energy or power density in the pack. That being said, I am not quite sure if there is an immediate push to replace Lithium-ion cells, since there are still quite a lot of cost-down opportunities out there in the pack as it's built today.
Frame254 karma2014-07-02 15:46:39 UTC
more_amps9 karma2014-07-02 16:04:13 UTC
1) Definitely would like to return as a full-timer, given my experiences as an intern and the general amount of new stuff that's always going on/around the corner.
2) I didn't hear a lot along those lines (interns don't get stock options, so we didn't really deal with that a lot).
3) Although I wasn't directly involved in anything relating to the fires/subsequent investigations, I would say the blog postings on Tesla's website in the weeks following the fires were a fairly accurate representation of the general opinions I heard from my colleagues.
4) While actively on the job, it tends to be hard to necessarily "romanticize" in the sort of way a Megafactories documentary might do so, but I would say I always felt like I had a purpose and was contributing significantly to something big.
zephyr52084 karma2014-07-02 16:18:24 UTC
Please tell me tesla is looking into light duty trucks and semi rigs. Those two entries to market will provide such a huge impact for both fuel consumption and alternatives for the working class. I've been dreaming of the day that I can drive an electric equivalent of an f350, and I think that tesla is the company that can pull it off.
I also have a question about the charging stations that were just released. do you know if the stations can function off of solar arrays, or are they limited to ac only?
more_amps3 karma2014-07-02 23:19:06 UTC
It is my understanding that the superchargers use solar to supplement their energy consumption. The primary source of energy is the local electric grid, though I would imagine some kind of peak demand-smoothing is done using batteries at the station, to reduce the demand surges on the local grid.
Kafyz3 karma2014-07-02 16:23:28 UTC
more_amps4 karma2014-07-02 19:03:30 UTC
I submitted my cover letter and resume to the Careers portion of Tesla's site (they have a specific section within Careers that lists University internship openings). I got contacted by a recruiter in a little over a week, and had an initial HR phone interview, after which there were two technical/semi-technical interviews discussing my experience, asking me a few brain teaser/basic layout sorts of questions. The final interview was with my manager, to talk about my interests and how I'd fit into the team.
burken81 karma2014-07-02 19:42:28 UTC
Do you mind sharing what sort of brain teasers they asked you? Thanks!
more_amps2 karma2014-07-02 23:21:53 UTC
I was asked a variety of questions, pretty much 100% EE-style questions, which sort of had me doing a double-take, since I had initially applied to a firmware engineering opening. Some were PCB layout questions, there were a few analog design/component questions about op-amps, and the brain teaser was related to a resistor grid that was treated as a bit of a black box, with the objective being to find a single resistor's value. All in all, it was a fun interview, and I pulled through it nicely despite it being my first actual internship interview outside of school.
shiramy3 karma2014-07-03 13:52:01 UTC
Was this your first internship in the field? And do you plan to continue in the automotive industry?
more_amps2 karma2014-07-03 14:58:28 UTC
Yup, first industry internship (I had previously only worked at a lab in my university as a research assistant). I would definitely consider an automotive career, along with aerospace if I can get an internship in that industry.
Poor_cReddit2 karma2014-07-02 16:13:34 UTC
What did a typical day of work look like?
more_amps5 karma2014-07-02 19:01:18 UTC
I lived in San Jose/Milpitas, so the commute was about 2.5 hours by public transit, which had me arriving at work at about 8:00 am. A typical morning involved a mix of going to a variety of meetings where people updated each other on various aspects of the project I was a part of (we were basically bringing up a piece of current-measurement hardware, but there were many aspects to this project, involving everything from vibration through thermal shock testing, up to the side I and my colleagues were involved in, which was providing a lot of test support by writing test firmware to evaluate the electronics on the PCBA and collect data) All in all, the cycle basically involved rushing off to meetings every hour or two hours, and spending the time in between running around checking up on the status of some kind of long-term test, or adding functionality to firmware to provide support for a new data collection effort. There were a few other meetings every now and then during the week where we held design or code reviews and discussed some work we were doing on PCBA design/layout or firmware.
jianadaren13 karma2014-07-03 03:46:55 UTC
Are you saying you spent about 25 hours a week commuting?
tryingtoworkoutmylif2 karma2014-07-03 05:35:56 UTC
Welcome to interning.
jianadaren13 karma2014-07-03 12:03:25 UTC
Where it's not practical to live within 2 hours of your job? I think I'd prefer to sleep in the office
more_amps1 karma2014-07-06 21:57:21 UTC
^ Been there, done that (referring to the sleeping in the office part)
DNAtaurine2 karma2014-07-02 16:21:54 UTC
Hey man thanks for doing this. I am going into my second year of my Master's in electrical engineering with a thesis in wave energy conversion. Electric motors are cool as fuck and I would love to go to work for Tesla. Other than the standard "go to their site and apply", what would the best steps to take towards getting a job with Tesla be?
more_amps4 karma2014-07-02 18:32:39 UTC
Considering that I was hired through the online process, I really can only say you should go ahead and do that. In fact, even if a position directly matching your skillset isn't listed, you can in fact e-mail your resume and type out a cover letter to the general Human Resources email address listed in the Careers section of Tesla's site. Good luck!
Salem4theSummer2 karma2014-07-02 18:52:07 UTC
Why do you think you were chosen over other internship applicants? Did you have any relevant experience or anything else on your resume that gave you an advantage? How long is your internship?
My SO applied online for an EE internship this spring/summer at Tesla (one of his dream employers) and did not even get a response, is there any helpful advice from your successful attempt you could give him for next year?
more_amps2 karma2014-07-02 19:24:59 UTC
The only thing I really had going for me was the fact that I have been mucking around in the embedded world (both hardware and firmware-wise) since halfway into my senior year in high school, so it is very much within my comfort zone. I had also been working at a robotics research lab in my university since the summer after my freshman year in college, continuing to work on firmware development and sensor characterization, and I had recently also gotten into FPGA's through some coursework I had taken. All that being said, I think the way you think out loud in the technical interview is quite a lot more important in convincing the engineers you're talking to that you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals. I would encourage your SO to keep applying... sometimes it's really just a matter of hiring schedules and a good fit position not being there for him.
TheCompleteReference2 karma2014-07-02 16:18:20 UTC
Did they let interns test drive the cars at all? What about full timers?
more_amps11 karma2014-07-02 16:23:45 UTC
I am under 25, so I couldn't officially walk into a store asking for a test-drive of a Model S, but someone in Marketing did allow me to test-drive his Roadster through the back roads of Palo Alto
Yodamanjaro2 karma2014-07-02 17:14:26 UTC
How kickass was it?
more_amps8 karma2014-07-02 18:25:05 UTC
To the point where I had my foot halfway down and wasn't quite sure why I was grinning from ear to ear, save for a strange sensation in the gut of my stomach. Oh, and I was also mildly scared by the fact that it was my first time steering a manual steering-based vehicle...
bisnotyourarmy1 karma2014-07-03 10:34:50 UTC
A manual steering car? Care to elaborate?
more_amps3 karma2014-07-03 15:04:28 UTC
On your average car, the traditional rack-and-pinion steering system is assisted either by a hydraulic pump (this is a bit older) or by an electric motor that provides variable assist depending on vehicle speed and steering angle (this is the more modern system that is found on most vehicles built in the last 4-5 years). The Tesla Roadster, being based off the chassis of the Lotus Elise also used the Elise's manual steering rack, which means you get similar road feedback from the wheel as an Elise. The major downside is that at low speeds (as in < parking lot speeds), and when turning the wheel with the car stopped, the steering will be quite heavy and require a lot of effort. At anything above 10-20 mph, most power steering systems barely provide any assist anyway, so you don't feel much of a difference in steering weight.
GDZK2 karma2014-07-03 13:18:35 UTC
What advice what you give someone going into an engineering career and how hard is it?
Also what did you study to become an intern?
more_amps1 karma2014-07-06 21:59:18 UTC
Take the coursework that truly interests you, and try your best to supplement it as much as possible with a mix of internships and personal pet projects (even if internships result in you having to take time off school and put off graduation for a term or two). You can't really study to intern somewhere, it's a matter of having an interest in a given industry or field, having some relevant experience (possibly in a university research lab or a small startup), and applying to a few places and trying your chances.
Sophie_Boogalo2 karma2014-07-03 05:10:10 UTC
My husband is obsessed with Teslas and would love to have a Model X. But, due to his upbringing, he feels like a Model X would be too extravagant so he is considering the Audi Q5 instead. Do you have any words of wisdom to give him? (We can afford either car).
more_amps3 karma2014-07-03 14:57:04 UTC
All things considered, I am pretty sure most analyses show that an electric vehicle creates a net reduction in carbon footprint, even if your local electric grid primarily uses coal-based generating capacity. I would ask him to consider the significant reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions, the drastically-reduced maintenance requirements (no oil changes, not having an engine with hundreds of spinning parts to deal with, reduced brake wear, etc.), and the fact that anyone buying an ICE-based vehicle is effectively contributing to our dependence on foreign oil, when he thinks of the Model X as extravagant.
robdg1 karma2014-07-02 23:37:55 UTC
Did you enjoy working in Fremont? I live pretty close to the Tesla plant.
more_amps1 karma2014-07-03 15:07:01 UTC
I worked at the HQ in Palo Alto, but I did go to Fremont every once in a while!
stayonthecloud1 karma2014-07-02 15:57:34 UTC
Will Tesla stick with luxury, or ultimately create more affordable vehicles?
What was your first experience like riding around in a Tesla?
more_amps7 karma2014-07-02 18:37:06 UTC
I think Elon has made it quite clear that Tesla's strategy is a step-by-step approach, where vehicles go from low-volume, high-value to eventually a high-volume, low-cost model that competes with mid-range gasoline vehicles. As to where along the pipeline Tesla is, I cannot really say for certain, but I'm sure the time will come sooner than later that you and I will both be driving around in an electric vehicle from Tesla or one of the existing auto OEM's if they start seeing the writing on the wall and react to it.
more_amps6 karma2014-07-02 18:38:55 UTC
The first ride for me was when we were taken on a Model S right after orientation at the Fremont Factory, and we definitely had quite a fun time being thrown around the circular on-ramps, and merging onto the freeway. Although I knew about the interior characteristics of the Model S beforehand, I do remember being a bit taken aback by just how much free space there was in the vehicle.
dacostalindo1 karma2014-07-02 23:03:02 UTC
What was the most interesting project you had the opportunity to work in?
more_amps1 karma2014-07-03 15:12:03 UTC
I mainly worked on two projects, of which the second took up the majority of my internship. It basically involved me writing firmware and bringing up a current measurement device. Once the basic firmware was written and tested, along with a bootloader, my main role was providing support from an electronics and firmware standpoint for the barrage of thermal and vibration tests that were being done on the device.
CraziedHair1 karma2014-07-03 01:55:28 UTC
How did you get an intersnhip with Tesla Motors? Was it an application and interview or like a whole different process?
more_amps3 karma2014-07-03 02:07:49 UTC
I applied online, via the career listings, and was contacted by a recruiter a bit over a week later. I went through the process with an initial HR interview, and two technical interviews, after which I was given an offer and a few days to make up my mind. The whole process took about 3 weeks.
left_turn_signal1 karma2014-07-02 19:35:45 UTC
How diverse is the employee makeup? Would Tesla even look at someone outside USA to hire?
more_amps1 karma2014-07-03 15:15:05 UTC
There is a fairly high amount of diversity in the workforce, and I can't see why international hires would be out of question (I think I met a few engineers there who seemed like they had been hired from outside the US as a matter of fact). While it would be a little more complicated due to the visa process, Tesla at least doesn't have to deal with ITAR and State Department restrictions the way SpaceX does.
Tim7332-1 karma2014-07-03 01:53:24 UTC
more_amps3 karma2014-07-03 02:08:50 UTC
Ask Wall Street or read the financials, I don't price the car. Also, I think that question might be better-suited to being on r/teslamotors perhaps?
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