ACE career story Prathik Neelavara

  • April 30, 2020
  • Maurice Moens

In this ACE career story we interview ACE engineer Prathik Neelavara who works for ACE office Gent.

Did you always know you wanted to be an engineer?
Prathik: ”Like most children I had various dreams about my future at different stages of my childhood, but engineering was not one of them. As I grew up and went through my schooling, I discovered I was interested in math, physics and chemistry. Many of my relatives are engineers in various fields. I had good guidance and always had people to approach whenever in doubt. So at one point looking at my interests and people around me, I chose to do engineering.”

What is your background as an engineer?
Prathik: ”I chose to pursue mechanical engineering as that aligned the most with my interests (math, physics and my growing interests in vehicle technology). I did my Bachelor's (2011-2015) in India close to my hometown Udupi at the N.M.A.M. Institute of Technology. I enjoyed every bit of it, thanks to it I have a good basic fundamental knowledge.

Then I pursued my Master's in Automotive engineering (2016-2019) specializing in Advanced powertrains from the Czech Technical University in Prague. I Chose this due to my interest in the Automotive field. Greatly appreciate each and every professors for the knowledge they shared. I learnt greatly during these years and made friends for life.”

How did your career as engineer start?
Prathik: ”I had a year gap between my Bachelor's and Master's. During this time I worked as a pre- risk analyst in the finance sector in Mumbai, India. Even though this was not related to engineering, I learnt a lot about the corporate work culture and gained a skill for life, MS EXCEL, and lived in one of the most amazing cities of the world!”

In process of completing my master's I had to do a thesis internship. This is when I think my career as engineer started. I got an opportunity to conduct my thesis at SCANIA in Sodertalje in 2018 at the pre-development department for engines. This was a fantastic experience. I was just amazed by the knowledge of all the people and how they went about their work. It was heaven for a starter like me, to have all access to resources and research that had been done previously!”

How did you get in contact with ACE in Gent?
Prathik: ”When I was nearing the end of my master studies, I started looking for a job in my specialization spectrum. Through ACE I got the opportunity to start working for one of their customers, Tremec. I thought I could learn a lot there so I applied for the job. I was selected and hired! At ACE, everyone was so helpful and friendly, especially Kurt and Deborah. I surely feel like it was a step in the right direction.”

Did you move to Belgium because of ACE or where you already living in Belgium?
Prathik: ”Yes, In a way you could say I moved to Belgium because of ACE. I was in Prague, Czech Republic finishing my master studies. I basically moved due to the job opportunity that was in front of me. ACE assisted me throughout the moving phase, I am grateful to Kurt and his team. Belgium has been good to me, enjoying my work and learning a lot. After almost 9 months of being in Belgium I can for sure say that moving to Belgium and being with ACE was one of the best decision that I made till date.”

What was your first project at ACE?
Prathik: ”My project with ACE is at TREMEC in Zedelgem. I work as a test setup engineer, it's been 9 months since I started and have enjoyed every single bit of it. Fantastic bunch of people around me, highly knowledgeable and friendly. I enjoy going to work every day. My day to day tasks involve a lot of practical and physical stuff to be done in the test lab, this is exactly what I was looking for as most of my study during my university days were in a theoretical manner. This has enabled me to think and understand in a different manner than before. Also, this position has a good split between working at my desk and on the floor/lab, its perfect! My working days just fly by.”

In which direction do you want to develop your engineering skills?
Prathik: ”It's just been about 9 months since I have been working on this project, I think I have a lot more to learn and can offer a lot more to the company in the coming months. I Would like to follow the current path for some more time, so I can gain more knowledge from the floor/lab. My main motive is to keep learning on a daily basis so my brain will not rust. Somewhere in the future I would like to change departments to understand how an organisation works, which skills I can develop and how I can assist the organization. Although, for now I want to stay in the technical line, but working in different departments will help if ever I decide to go into general management.”

How do you feel ACE can assist you in reaching this goal?
Prathik: “I feel the people at ACE are very friendly and helpful and supportive. The most contact I have had is with Kurt and Deborah and few other ACE colleagues that work with me at TREMEC. I had the opportunity to meet more ACE colleagues during the Christmas dinner.

Being able to work for ACE at Tremec has been fantastic and I hope to continue it in a similar manner for the coming years. In the future being with ACE will give me access to work in many more interesting projects aligning with my interests at that point in life. At some point I would also like to work for ACE at their in-house projects, so I can offer my skills and actually grow with the organization.”


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