Hamid Golgiri was surprised to discover that working for Ford Motor Company is a lot like working on VCU School of Engineering projects.
Golgiri, a 2016 alumnus of VCU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been a product development engineer with Ford since June 2016. When he arrived, he anticipated a steep learning curve and a bit of culture shock.
“But to be honest, I’m having trouble finding many differences between the VCU School of Engineering and the workplace. The small project teams I was in at VCU are very similar to what I’ve seen even at a massive company like Ford,” Golgiri said, noting that at Ford, small teams of engineers are assigned to work on projects in a mode that reminded him of the Senior Capstone Design process. VCU’s project-centered, hands-on approach to engineering bridges the gap between academia and the workplace, he said, by giving students a chance to “get their hands dirty” as they master engineering concepts.
As an undergraduate at VCU, Golgiri capitalized on many opportunities to do just that. He honed his creative and technical problem-solving skills alongside other students at events such as the NXP Freescale Cup, a global competition where students design and race robotic cars. Weijun Xiao, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, told Golgiri about the opportunity and suggested that he attend. His team won third place on the East Coast, and Golgiri thinks this is the project that impressed Ford enough to fly him out for an interview.
Golgiri now works in the Ford College Graduate program, a series of six-month rotations designed to immerse newly-minted engineers in the company’s culture and products. His first rotation was in Ford’s research department. There his work centered on improving the customer experience for phone-to-vehicle interactions and new technologies related to charging phones in the vehicle. Recently he began his second rotation, on a driver-assistance technologies team that is analyzing real sensor data and developing technologies to make the vehicle safer to drive. His previous and current rotations also comprised projects that Golgiri described with a good-natured chuckle as “really cool stuff I wish I could tell you about.” In addition, he is one of the inventors on multiple inventions that will be filed for Ford patents.
His advice to current students is simple: get involved, and love what you do. What does that look like?
“Ask your professors about any upcoming special projects you might be able to be a part of. Stay up until 3 A.M. building your robot. Put more into your work than what is expected, whether anyone notices or not,” he said. “And most importantly, enjoy what you do. I believe that if you are doing what you truly enjoy, you will ultimately achieve success.”