Forrest Craft: The Road to Tesla Motors
Working at Tesla Motors is a dream job for many mechanical engineers, but as the company only makes about 5,000 hires out of the over 1.5 million résumés it receives per year, landing a position at the iconic automotive company can seem like a nearly impossible feat. Despite the odds, one College of Engineering alumnus decided to apply, and secured a position as a product engineer.
“I had always thought Tesla would be a really cool place to work because of their efforts in renewable energy and sustainable transportation. I just applied online, and they took eight months to call me back. They hired me the same day I interviewed,” says Forrest Craft, mechanical engineering and physics graduate.
Craft feels it was the experience he gained before graduation that set him apart from other applicants. Specifically, he participated in the College of Engineering’s cooperative education program, which gave him over a full year of professional, real-world experience before his graduation in 2014. During his tenure at CSU, Craft co-oped with both Wolf Robotics and Delta Air Lines.
“At Wolf Robotics, I was programming robotics systems and learned how to problem solve. My rotation there was eight months, and that was a good amount of time to gain a deeper understanding of how everything worked.”
After his rotation with Wolf Robotics, Craft was looking for another co-op opportunity to learn new skills, and ended up at Delta Air Lines.
“At Delta I was a repair engineer, where I would evaluate damage and determine how to repair the problem, and decide if the aircraft would be structurally safe with the repair. It was a very process-oriented job, and I fit in well there because I understood how an engineer fit into the repair process.”
Forging His Own Way
Ultimately, Craft’s experiences at CSU came together to help him land a job at Tesla because the company saw repair engineering experience at Delta on his résumé. His choices to dual major in mechanical engineering and physics, participate in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and interface with faculty and staff all contributed to his success at CSU and beyond.
“It took me a long time to get the experience I needed, but now I feel like I could work anywhere I want, and this experience has made me more confident.”
It took Craft six years at CSU to graduate with his two degrees, but he had a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to show for his efforts. For those looking to pursue a similar career, he has advice to share:
“Silicon Valley is a ‘forge your own way’ kind of thing. What’s valuable to a company like Tesla is someone who’s curious, asks the questions nobody else thought to ask, is bold with what they know and is willing to try to understand what they don’t. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and pursue your passions outside of work – because it takes a certain kind of passion to get to where I am now. “