Racing Your Passion

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Mario Ferre, SEAS ’23

It is rare to find the opportunity to follow your passions and dreams thanks to the kind hearts and minds of enlightened and altruistic donors. Yet, this is exactly what I experienced this summer thanks to Penn Career Services’ Summer Funding. I was able to cover my travel and living expenses and spend a summer working with the best people in motorsports as a Design and Development Intern at Toyota Racing. As I near the end of my time at TRD, I can reflect on this incredible experience. The internship proved invaluable to my growth both as an engineer and as a person. I was exposed to office dynamics, engineering practices, and a fast paced lifestyle, further cementing my passion for an engineering career.

I worked on a commercial automotive project, focusing on an EV prototype. During the first part of my internship, I was exposed to the practices of reverse engineering, and took part in kinematics and compliance testing, as well as CoG and suspension testing. I learned to efficiently use laser scanning and blue light scanning equipment, to validate and verify manufacturing and design quality. I was supported by seasoned engineers, and mentored by experienced managers. The second part of my 12 week assignment was focused on design and development. I was responsible for the design, development, and implementation of an accumulator for a prototype vehicle. The design goals focused on accessibility, ease of use, and straightforward maintenance.

This project introduced me to the interlocking industries, companies, and people that go behind even the simplest of engineering designs. An engineering product may very well have components from a variety of companies. Juggling all of the lead times, design procedures, and standards across different suppliers and manufacturers is no easy feat, and I am proud I was able to do it in an efficient manner. These realities are often hidden from engineering students, whose school assignments are far from the under-constrained, under-defined problems a real engineer might face, and thus show the importance and value of internship experiences.

The last part of my internship focused, among other things, on documenting and presenting the work done so that efficient knowledge transfer could happen between the project team members and me. Internships are often short compared to the scope of the projects interns work on. Efficiently communicating and documenting your design decisions to the engineers that will pick up the work after you are done is essential to the vitality of the projects you have worked on. I am happy I did just that.

It is clear that without a donor, I could not have contributed to most of the projects I have worked on, and I might not have been able to even accept the internship TRD offered. This highlights how grateful I am for the kind philanthropic spirit and strong devotion Penn Career Services and its donors have. Thanks to you, I have grown both professionally and personally, in ways which will define my future life decisions. Thank you.

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