Industrial and systems engineering graduates lead impactful careers through Tesla

By Carla Nelson

Published: Sep 7, 2021 1:00:00 PM

Akash Shettannavar, a 2017 graduate of the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has worked for Tesla for five years. Akash Shettannavar, a 2017 graduate of the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has worked for Tesla for five years.

Four graduates of the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering are working to help accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by working with one of the world’s most well-known companies.

Abhishek Rao, ’16; Akash Shettannavar, ’17; Anjaneya Bandekar, ’18, ’21; and Blake Hilgen, ’21, are all Auburn graduates currently working for the company Tesla.

Rao, who earned a Master of Industrial and Systems Engineering in 2016 after earning a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2011, chose to pursue his master’s degree at Auburn after learning the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering offered a graduate certificate in occupational safety and ergonomics.

Rao has been an employee of Tesla for three years and is part of the ergonomics design team.

“As part of the ergonomics design team, we are responsible for seeing the product development and design through to the start of production,” Rao explained. “This includes reviewing product architecture and process and equipment design to ensure we have a safe, repeatable process.”

Shettannavar earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University in 2012. He went on to earn a graduate certificate in occupational safety and ergonomics from Auburn University in 2016 and a Master of Industrial and Systems Engineering in 2017.

Shettannavar said during his senior year of undergraduate work, he took the course Engineering System Design which introduced him to the basics of systems engineering and topics such as human factors and ergonomics. This course influenced Shettannavar to pursue higher education in the field.

“Auburn’s industrial and systems engineering program was a great fit for me as it offered an occupational safety and ergonomics graduate certificate along with industrial and systems engineering courses,” Shettannavar said.

Shettannavar has been an employee of Tesla for five years and is a senior ergonomist. His job duties include integrating environmental health and safety into product design and factory development, creating processes and improvements to integrate technology and digital modeling into a systems approach to managing risks, performing equipment design reviews, providing design guidance to vendors and more.

Neither Rao nor Shettannavar said working for Tesla was necessarily a goal of theirs, but they are both happy in their career choice.

“Having a position like this was a goal,” Rao said. “To be able to influence product design to improve manufacturing and actually work directly with design and manufacturing engineering was a goal.”

Shettannavar added that he is proud to work on a team which aims to eliminate or reduce work-related musculoskeletal injuries in the workforce.

“I enjoy the fulfillment of seeing improvements in the product design, equipment and process, which makes the job easier and enables healthy, high performance for our workforce,” he said.

Rao and Shettannavar were classmates and friends while at Auburn and have been on the same ergonomics design team with Tesla for the last two years. They both feel that the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering prepared them well for their careers.

“The faculty, the connections in industry, site visits, research work and conference proceedings were all contributing factors towards prepping me for industry,” Rao said.

Shettannavar added that the teaching staff’s prior experiences from working in industry settings enabled him to understand and learn what to expect in his career and how to prepare himself for future opportunities.

“A personal shout-out to our occupational safety and ergonomics (OSE) professors who create an all-hands on deck environment for OSE students in terms of research participation and learning which elevated our graduate school experience to next level,” he said. “All involved in the OSE program is like close family and I’m grateful to have been part of it.”

 

Media Contact: Carla Nelson, cmn0023@auburn.edu, 334.844.1404

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