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Mechanical engineering student builds future with Tesla, NASA internships

David Neri and Pete Schooner | Nov 28, 2016
TannerWick_Main

Mechanical engineering student builds future with Tesla, NASA internships

David Neri and Pete Schooner | Nov 28, 2016

Russ College students typically aim high, but mechanical engineering sophomore Tanner Wick, who’s wrapping up back-to-back internships at Tesla Motors and NASA’s Johnson Space Center, is pushing his career trajectory to even greater heights.
 
Wick spent the past summer as a powertrain product excellence intern at Tesla and has been working with NASA this fall on projects that will someday make their way to the International Space Station. 
 
Although the two organizations’ cultures are quite different, according to Wick, his time beyond the classroom has been invaluable in gaining diverse experience, expanding his skillset and growing his network of professional connections.
 
“Tesla comprises a young and highly motivated workforce. Everyone in the growing company is passionate for its success, and interns were regarded as full-time employees with high expectations and project management responsibilities,” explained Wick. “As for NASA, project teams collaborated with world-class experts, engineers, astronauts and flight operation groups. The center places strong emphasis on fundamental understanding and documentation of work. This contributes to the NASA legacy of triumphs and discoveries. Above all, both Tesla and NASA stood out as pioneers for human progress.”
 
How did Wick secure such highly competitive opportunities? He said it’s all about getting involved and making connections whenever possible.
 
“The experience gained outside a textbook is invaluable,” Wick said. “Start building professional networks with alumni and faculty – those contacts open doors to other people or job opportunities.”
 
Russ College alumnus and Board of Visitors member David Pidwell, BSEE ’69, MS ’70, has mentored Wick for the past two years; the two struck up a professional relationship a few years back. 
 
“Tanner is a very personable individual, inquisitive, eager to learn new things, and willing to sacrifice for the benefit of his company or project,” Pidwell said. “He is a determined hard working individual, who truly cares about making a positive contribution -- and team player as well as a team leader.”
 
Wick attributed his success so far to the help he’s received from the Russ College community, giving particular note to Loehr Professor of Mechanical Engineering David Bayless.
 
“From day one of freshman year, Dr. Bayless has offered incredible support for students,” explained Wick. “Anytime I meet Dr. Bayless to discuss career and academic goals, his first response is always, ‘Sounds good – how can I help?’ He has challenged me with design projects, introduced me to exciting research fields, and inspired me to seek out all opportunities in life.”
 
Russ College Director of Professional Experiences Dean Pidcock encouraged students to follow Wick’s example of aiming high when seeking internships and co-ops.
 
“Russ College students obtain co-ops and internships throughout the state of Ohio and the entire nation,” stated Pidcock. “If your goal is to work for NASA, Tesla or any large company, it’s definitely obtainable.”
His advice for finding success?
“Maintain a strong GPA,” Pidcock said. “Many larger companies hire students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Also, it’s important to become active on campus. Become involved with project teams and student organizations. When employers read your resume, they’re looking for evidence of what you do outside the classroom.”