From a childhood interest in electronics to an internship with Tesla, a Colorado State University computer engineering master’s student is taking large strides toward his dream career in the automotive industry.
Ram Rohit Gannavarapu will be an intern for Tesla’s Hardware Engineering Team starting in Spring 2021. He will be working at the Tesla Headquarters in Palo Alto, California, designing and developing Automated Test Equipment (ATE) for low-voltage electronic hardware and systems for various Tesla cars.
Interest in electronic devices
While growing up in Hyderabad, India, Ram Rohit used to help his father assemble desktops. This led to a later passion for automobiles.
He participated in the BAJA SAE India competition while pursuing a bachelor’s in electronics and communication engineering from Shiv Nadar University.
“We designed and fabricated an all-terrain vehicle from scratch,” he said. “Those two years [on the team] helped me get a deep understanding of the various ins and outs of an automotive system.”
Automotive software research
After working in industry for several years, Ram Rohit realized he wanted to better understand how high- and low-level software interact within a vehicle. This motivated him to apply to CSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and move to Fort Collins, where he has found his “home far away from home.”
In February of this year, he met with Jeremy Daily, associate professor in systems engineering, to discuss working as a research assistant working on electronic control units (ECUs). ECUs are embedded in vehicles and the many electrical systems that are part of modern vehicles.
“After graduating, I worked at KPIT Technologies developing tools for component integration for their ECUs,” Ram Rohit said. “I was surprised to see that [Daily and his team] were working on the same ECU’s I was developing tools for back at KPIT.”
After a brief interview, Daily hired him as a research assistant and a thesis idea related to this research was formed.
He is currently developing a smart sensor simulator to extract data from heavy vehicle event data recorders (HVEDRs) from the ECUs of vehicles involved in crashes.
“The most interesting part [of this research] to me is designing printed circuit boards (PCBs) for prototype projects,” he said. “I think the PCB skills helped me get an edge over other applicants for the internship since the internship expected PCB design skills.”
Looking forward to working at Tesla
Ram Rohit is excited about many parts of his internship, but the appeal of sitting in and driving a Tesla is high on the list. Perhaps most important, however, is that this internship represents a move towards his future career goals.
“I have been passionate about automobiles for a while and was fortunate enough to be able to work in the automotive sector both after my undergrad as well as during my master’s,” he said. “This internship marks a steppingstone towards a career in the automotive sector.”