Challenging Conventions

New ISD GAME Graduate Pranav Patil ‘23 Transforms His Love of Automotive Mechanical Systems into a Full-Time Position at Tesla

From a young age, Pranav Patil was driven by a deep curiosity and affinity for the workings of automotive engineering mechanical systems.

“I was always fascinated and had a passion for automobiles,” he said. “I was always curious about what drives vehicles, and wanted to dive deeper into the mechanics.”

Born and raised in Maharashtra, India, Patil’s interest in dissecting how vehicles actually work became super charged while earning his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pune in 2018. His scholarly venture did not end there. Fueled by his product development experience at Indian Automotive OEM Mahindra & Mahindra, he ventured into a product development role wherein he gained expertise in the component development of various vehicle mechanical systems and a broader immersion in powertrain and chassis dynamics during his undergraduate years, Patil soon ventured across the world to the University of Michigan

GAME Changer

Enrolling in the Global Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering (GAME) program under Integrative Systems + Design (ISD), he designed his own curriculum, bolstering his understanding of complex automotive engineering systems and problem-solving techniques, which he believes will lead him toward a leadership position in the future.

“My Mahindra experience led me to dive deeper into automotive systems and manufacturing sciences, which led me to pursue GAME,” he said. “There’s no better place to learn than GAME. “Its cross functionality suited my needs and provided tremendous flexibility to take courses from different parts of the university. If you want to understand and solve complex systems more deeply, have a deeper level of knowledge, and be in a leadership position, an ISD degree is for you.” 

GAME offers global content and is truly at the forefront of advanced technologies that create an impact on the world, he said.

“The level of flexibility the GAME curriculum offers is unmatched,” he said. “You can choose courses from battery systems and management at the same time preparing you in techno-managerial spheres, which is exactly what the industry needs. My coursework at ISD gave me a fundamental understanding of systems design and Six Sigma principles. At ISD, you get world-class guidance from professors who have had impactful careers in the industry.”

Tesla Internship

Patil’s passion for the automotive industry led him to secure an internship at Tesla’s Fremont Factory in California from May to December 2023. Here, he learned the importance of sharing his voice, and taking charge. He was encouraged by Tesla’s tolerance toward risk taking and innovation, which he sees as a boon to professional growth.

“At Tesla, if you see something that could be better, you are encouraged to say something,” he said. “Tesla is conducive to growth and feeling empowered. You dive in and share your ideas. I did not consider myself an intern. I was encouraged to apply what I had learned. Tesla has a higher tolerance for mistakes. We take on risks and find ways to get things done. It’s all about challenging the convention and that’s what makes Tesla special. Everyone at Tesla challenges themselves.”

During his internship, he worked in Supplier Quality Engineering, focusing on body in white components, where his major project was analysis of supplier part quality issues to drive quality improvements in supplier processes. One of his significant projects involved collaborating with supplier partners and multiple teams within Tesla to establish quality controls in supplier partnerships for industrializing parts of the new Model 3.

“When you come from a different country, you need to learn to collaborate with people from multiple backgrounds and technical spheres,” he said. “My internship taught me to be proactive, take charge of driving new projects and communicate well with all sorts of individuals from all types of backgrounds and cultures while coming up innovative solutions to make things work.”

Graduating and Advancing

In December 2023, Patil graduated from GAME and accepted a full-time position as a Supplier Industrialization Engineer at Tesla. He started on January 16, 2024. In his new role, he is responsible for the critical component development of vehicle closures and mechatronics parts for new models of Tesla. It involves industrializing suppliers across the globe to enable rapid product development cycles and product launches.

“I work on Vehicle Closures and Electro-Mechanical mechanisms, which close the body of a vehicle,” he said.

Patil, 28, who has a personal passion for financial markets, equity, and building his stock portfolio, believes his GAME education and employment with Tesla have instilled a deep understanding of cross-cultural collaborative work. He perceives himself to be on a constant learning trajectory adapting, growing, and thriving in challenging and dynamic environments. 

His vision for the future is clear to be in a supply chain leadership role, making strategic decisions. He expresses a desire to change the landscape of Electric Vehicles (EVs), addressing the current lack of EV infrastructure. His journey in the automotive industry has been a testament to his voracious curiosity, relentless pursuit for knowledge, and indomitable spirit for taking risks and challenging conventions. His mindset and approach toward his work make him an embodiment of what his alma mater stands for Leaders and Best.