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A sweet ride at Tesla

Liz Held at the Tesla Factory in California
Liz Held with a Tesla Model X
Photos provided by Liz Held
This semester, about 15 IE undergrads are interning with Tesla Motors, United Airlines, Disney, and other companies.

Senior IE student Liz Held is in the middle of an eight-month internship at one of the world’s most advanced automotive factories - the Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA. She is a Production Control intern working on Tesla’s Production Planning team. During her internship, she’s worked on material and process-centric projects supporting the warehouses, stamping, production lines, end-of-line rectification, and even worked night shift for two months.

Held believes that this internship has given her more confidence and made her a better engineer. “My work has been 100% hands-on,” she says. “Production is such a great area to work in because it allows you to be involved in business decisions, technical challenges, and process improvements at both a large and small scale, which gives you great visibility into how things around you operate and thrive. Working in a fast-paced manufacturing facility is extremely fun.

Previously, Held interned at General Motors in Detroit for three summers. “I became passionate and excited for the future of the auto industry. Tesla is accelerating the necessary transition to sustainable and autonomous transportation by designing brilliant, exciting products and by encouraging competition from other auto companies," she says.

One product Held has worked on is Tesla’s Model X, a fully electric SUV with a giant panoramic roof, gull-wing "falcon" doors, and a bioweapon defense mode that would allow its passengers to survive an environmental crisis.

Part of the success of her internship depends on what she brought with her internally. “The two main things that have helped me succeed so far at Tesla are work ethic and curiosity,” she explains. “Having a good work ethic specifically has provided me the opportunity to join a different team within my department, which has allowed me to project manage an exciting large-scale improvements project. Curiosity has provided me resources, connections and a sometimes broad, sometimes specific understanding of the production process from purchasing to end-of-line.”

According to Held, a good work ethic includes enthusiasm, positivity, pushing oneself to learn, being responsible, volunteering for additional projects, and being a good co-worker.

“I try every day to be someone other people want to work with,” she says.

Her advice to current IE students? “Purdue IIE [Institute of Industrial Engineers] is a great resource and community - I would encourage IE students to consider joining.”

She’ll return to Purdue this summer and hopes to graduate in May 2017. And after that? “I would love to continue to work in manufacturing and the auto industry, but I would also be happy to experience other fields and industries,” she says. “I would love to eventually pursue a MSIE or MBA.”

“I feel very proud and thankful to tell others I am a Purdue IE," says Held.

IE students interested in internships should contact Senior Academic Administrator Dr. Patrick Brunese at pbrunese@purdue.edu for further information. 

Companies interested in establishing an internship with Purdue IE or becoming an IE corporate partner should contact Dave Kotterman, Director of Industry Relations, at dkotter@purdue.edu.

Writer: DeEtte Starr, starrd@purdue.edu