Michael Des Roches and Mickenna Turner of the College of Engineering
Madison Vialpando/ Nevada Sagebrush
Michael Des Roches and Mickenna Turner participates in Tesla’s Technician Trainee Program. Tesla helped create two minors in the College of Engineering.

Students at the University of Nevada, Reno, have the opportunity to intern at Tesla.

Tesla works closely with UNR’s College of Engineering to help build a relationship between the company and the community to recruit local talent in the area. As part of this relationship building, Tesla helped create two minors in the College of Engineering. Tesla actively recruits engineering students from UNR for their Technician Trainee Program. 

The technician trainee program is a 90-day opportunity where students from the university can gain hands-on experience in engineering, robotics and automation programs at Gigafactory 1. With a successful pilot in fall 2018, the Technician Trainee Program is now in its second year.

“We have a robust internship program that has opportunities in spring, summer and fall for undergraduate and graduate students,” said Chris Reilly, workforce development and education lead at Tesla. “We wanted to expand the opportunity [at Tesla] to give more students real hands-on experience.The exciting thing is we can have students across all years in this program as well, which is exciting and helps get students prepared for future opportunities at Tesla.” 

At the end of the 90-days, students will undergo a review for a potential internship at the Gigafactory 1, full-time conversion or an extension of their existing 90-day assignment. 

Mickenna Turner and Michael Des Roches are two students in the College of Engineering who are currently participating in the Technician Trainee Program.  

Mickenna Turner 

Mickenna Turner currently works at Tesla as one of the selected candidates in their Technician Trainee Program. Turner previously received her Associate Natural Sciences degree and enrolled at UNR to complete a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering.

Turner’s experience in the Technician Trainee Program helps her apply the skills she is learning from her lectures and receives job experience. She currently works in the Modules Department on the Fixtures Team, one of the departments at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1.  

“I feel like I’m learning a lot [in the program],” Turner said. “The things I’m learning at Tesla are skills that could help me apply to and succeed at any job site, which I appreciate. I don’t like going to school and learning things that I’m never going to use. The fact that there is so much application of what I’m learning is great.” 

In the program, Turner knows Tesla is preparing her to solve the problems that experienced engineers are facing now. 

“I can see the common problems we’re having to work on when we could be spending our time on other things to improve,” Turner said. “For example, the production lines, and how quickly we can make things. From an engineering aspect, If ever do get an internship and become an engineer at Tesla. I can look at common problems and help speed up our production by fixing it.”

In the program, the trainee’s managers encourage students to ask questions. 

“I love being apart of a company that cares about making a change for people. The company’s morals align with mine. I love that they are working towards a more sustainable living and making products that can help people,” said Turner

Michael Des Roches 

Michael Des Roches is another candidate in the technician trainee program. He is currently in his last year at UNR as a computer science and engineering major. 

“The skills that I’m getting there are very diverse, they don’t particularly go to one field,” Des Roches said. “I’m a computer science engineer, so maybe not towards that degree, but there’s some stuff that pertains to my degree.”

In the Technician Trainee Program, Des Roches reports to a manager at Tesla where he and other participants in the trainee program are given a range of projects. On a typical day, trainees will work on a variety of tasks like helping in floor production with the engineers, maintaining the robots and working with the automation programs.

Des Roches explained how success in the program relies on the ability to have a good work ethic and an individual’s engagement with what they’re doing. 

“It’s a place where you get what you put into it,” he said. “If you go in without any work ethic, then you may not get a lot out of it. Still, if you’re asking a lot of questions and you’re engaging with the bosses and asking for more projects, it’s something you get a lot of [experience] out of.”

Des Roches enjoys the technology he is working on at Tesla. 

 “This is leading-edge technology that we’re getting to work on. It’s all-new stuff [technology] that we’re dealing with now. Tesla is in uncharted territory. It’s really cool,” he said. “I feel a sense of pride because we’re contributing to the future,” said Des Roches. 

Madison Vialpando can be reached at tkjohnson@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.