Where Are They Now: ChallengeX’s Prasad Venkiteswaran

University of Michigan (U of M) alumnus Prasad Venkiteswaran began his involvement with Advance Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) when he was looking to pursue a thesis topic. One of his professors was the team faculty advisor and pointed him in the direction of the team.

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“I was able to achieve my goal by converting my work on the control system design into my Master of Science thesis project,” he said. He was a part of ChallengeX from 2005 to 2007.

Prasad held a variety of positions during the three years he spent on U of M’s ChallengeX team, including: CAD Engineer, Integration Engineer, Control Systems Engineer and Team Lead. He recalls the team winning the Spirit of the Challenge award at the main event as one of his favorite AVTC memories. “This was awarded to teams that showed most improvement in the face of adversity,” he said.

Prasad (far left) during the 2006 ChallengeX competition

Prasad (far left) during the 2006 ChallengeX competition

After graduating from U of M, Prasad immediately entered the professional world with a job at Parker Hannifin. Since his start with the company in 2007, he has resumed four different rotations within the hybrid powertrain product development team.

“I started off my journey with Parker developing an idea into a prototype hybrid powertrain prototype and have worked on the product through its lifecycle from prototype to commercialization,” he said. Prasad is currently the Engineering Supervisor of Systems Design and Test Engineering, managing a functional team that takes responsibility for all system design and testing functions required to commercialize a prototype within Parker Hannifin’s hybrid business unit.

Prasad said that being involved with AVTCs resulted in him landing a job immediately after graduation because U of M’s team chose to develop a hydraulic hybrid power train as opposed to electric. “Parker Hannifin was looking to expand its business into the hydraulic hybrid space and needed an engineer with specific hands-on skills to join the team,” he said. “The journey through ChallengeX gave me the exact practical skills that the firm was looking for and I ended up being a good fit for the team.”

He also adds that ChallengeX gave him a glimpse at how complicated it is to implement designs. “I had full appreciation for how much effort and attention to detail is required to materialize, for lack of a better term, the paper design, and I was able to convert this appreciation into a work ethic that has helped me in my career thus far.”

Prasad also applauded current AVTC students for their outstanding work in the industry. “The program has retained the critical elements that gave me an opportunity to pursue my passion while developing real world skills, while making operational and organizational improvements along the way.”

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