Some companies are dream destinations for aspiring engineers. But for Aiste Guden, that dream has become a reality: she works at electric car superstar Tesla Motors Inc. And it all started during her SFU Engineering Science co-op when the quietly ambitious undergrad – who specialized in Computer Engineering – won a placement at the California-based company.
“During my time there, I expressed an interest in returning full-time after I finished at university,” she says. “Then, a few months before graduation, I reconnected with my old manager, was interviewed by several teams and eventually got hired once I finished my courses.”
The job has proved both fascinating and diverse. “Currently, I’m working on the battery management system. My other projects have included writing firmware for hardware that allows the battery to provide power to the vehicle more efficiently; adding functionality for different types of electric chargers; and improving the internal algorithms that calculate power consumption and estimate range in the car.”
It’s this level of variety that keeps her job interesting. “There are always new problems to solve and new features to implement. It’s also incredibly rewarding to realize the firmware I developed runs in over 50,000 cars around the world.”
The job, she adds, is also challenging. “One of the biggest challenges is working within a complicated hardware/software framework. Writing firmware for any new hardware additions requires collaboration with a number of teams, including hardware design, modeling and validation in order to develop accurate power estimation models.”
But she looks back on the SFU program – especially its technical immersion and strong practical foundation – as good preparation for the rigours of her Tesla job.
“The co-op program was especially excellent in providing opportunities to work with exciting companies in the industry. This greatly helped me develop the technical experience I needed to become employable,” she says, adding that current undergrads should also take advantage of the opportunities presented to them at SFU – from research projects to extracurricular engineering clubs.
“It's a demanding program but if you put the work in you’ll succeed,” concludes Guden, who says she still enjoys the learning process in her Tesla job, especially in her understanding of power management systems. “Ultimately, I hope to also gain exposure and transition towards intelligent vehicle controls such as driver assistance and driverless technology.”