Putting the GAME Degree to Work

When asked to describe the field of engineering, many people may use the word “interdisciplinary.” Integrative Systems + Design (ISD) alumnus Eugenio Garcia understands this firsthand. Eugenio has worked and studied in three different countries in three different languages, and has handled projects both in the medical industry and in the automotive industry. Currently, Eugenio works at Tesla Motors in Palo Alto, California, where he was recently promoted to the position of senior product excellence engineer.

Eugenio’s path to becoming an engineer started when he was a child. Born in Mexico, Eugenio grew up hearing his father and grandfather, both engineers, delve into long discussions about mechanical engineering and its future. He went on to complete his undergraduate degree in engineering. “I’ve always been in close contact with this field,” Eugenio says. “I had the opportunity to be part of the first generation of the mechatronics program in one of the best engineering schools in Mexico.”

During his time as an undergraduate student, he had the opportunity to study abroad at Germany’s University of Applied Science in Wolfsburg; and at Lawrence Technical University here in Michigan. After working in the automotive industry for five years, Eugenio decided it was time to return to the state of Michigan. “U of M had been my dream school since I lived in Michigan during my exchange program,” he says.

On top of that, he realized the time was right for him to start a master’s program. He noticed that the auto industry was changing daily, and that new challenges and developments were constantly appearing. ISD’s Global Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering program was an excellent fit for his interests and goals. As he puts it, “Having a design and systems background, I was convinced that the ISD program would synergize with my skills…to have a better understanding of the industry and broader perspective of the trends and opportunities.”

While at ISD, Eugenio joined the S.M. Wu Manufacturing Research Center. “To be able to share my knowledge with extremely intelligent people from different cultures made a huge impact,” he says. The center also exposed him to the medical industry. As part of his culminating capstone project, he developed an Abdominal Abscess Simulator (AAS). The AAS is essentially a tool that allows radiologists to practice needle insertion on a high-fidelity mannequin. Choosing this project was no small decision. “It meant to enter a topic completely out of my expertise and also of my professional background,” he says. But the end result was positive, and, according to Eugenio, “It gave me the confidence needed to work in a company such as Tesla Motors, contributing to different fields.”

Not only has that confidence and versatility carried over into Eugenio’s work at Tesla, it has also enabled him to mentor a number of interns at the rising company. In the past year alone, the ISD alumnus has worked with students from Tennessee Technological University, Purdue University, and the University of Waterloo – a positive experience for all involved.

When summarizing his work, Eugenio says this: “I have to be a problem-solver at the core, have a strong quality and customer-focused mindset, and have the personal drive and stamina for relentless, continual improvement.”