Mike Eckert grew up racing go-karts and watching Formula 1 cars on television.
“I was interested in anything with four wheels that required a helmet to drive,” says Eckert, ME’10. As a kid, he wanted to be a Formula car driver, but as he got older, engineering became his goal.
“If I couldn’t drive such cars, I would build them instead.”
Years later, his dream came true. Two days after finishing his last race as chief engineer of the S&T Formula Car Team, Eckert started a new job as an engineer with Tesla Motors’ Advanced Engineering Team. He works primarily on new vehicle platform research and development for the Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-end electric vehicles. Since he’s been with the company, the engineering department has quadrupled in size as the once privately owned company went public.
Eckert says his design team experience is what landed him the job, and he uses the skills he learned at S&T every day.
“Quick, informed decision-making, high-level knowledge of every facet of the vehicle, the ability to learn and apply new things very quickly, and extensive knowledge of and reliance upon computer-aided design software are all part of my daily tasks,” Eckert says. “My S&T design team experience — often hard, tiring times mixed with the good — has really paid off.”
Although he still works long hours, there are perks to the job.
“We have a Tesla Roadster Sport here for employees to use to take to lunch or on weekend drives,” Eckert says. “The cars are incredible and attract such positive attention wherever you drive. It does take a fair bit of skill to safely pilot a $150,000 car through Los Angeles traffic, however.”