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From KTH to Tesla

Konstantinos Bourchas grew up in Athens, Greece, but joined KTH and the Master Programme in Electric Power Engineering in 2014. Two years later, just after he finished his master thesis at ABB, he was able to secure a position at Tesla Motors, world famous for its electric cars.

Konstantinos outside of Tesla Motors Headquarters in Palo Alto

Konstantinos arrived in San Francisco in September, after spending the summer in Greece.

- It is great to be here. I live in Silicon Valley and specifically in Sunnyvale, a city close to Palo Alto, where Tesla Motors is located. My first impression is that it is exciting working in a company which changes the world towards a more sustainable future. It is great being committed to such a mission.

But let’s go back to the beginning; tell us a little bit more about your background, why did you apply for KTH?

I have a Master degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from National Technical University of Athens. After my first degree I really wanted to do further studies on electrical machines. After applying in several universities all over Europe, I finally chose KTH due to many reasons. First of all, I knew that KTH offers quality studies in the field of electrical machines and drives. I was aware of that due to its publications in high prestigious engineering magazines and conferences. As a consequence, I admired the work of some KTH’s professors in the field of electrical machines, even before I arrive in Sweden.

Another reason I chose KTH among other universities is the close collaboration that it has with industry. I was not wrong about that, since we did many study visits to big companies in the field of electric power engineering, like STRI, Scania and ABB.

Apart from that, the location of KTH played a major role in my decision. I had heard that Stockholm is a beautiful city. After two years, I can say that living in Stockholm is an experience of a lifetime. Not only it offers many alternatives to spend your free time but the people of Stockholm are very friendly and polite, something that make a foreigners’ life easier.

You took part in a lot a activites at KTH, tell us a little bit about them.

First of all I was a student ambassador. We acted as a link between KTH and the outside world. That means that I informed prospective and new students about KTH and Sweden and help them in many ways, both before and after the application and admission procedure. Further to mention, I was a member of the team that represented KTH at the European fuel economy contest, Shell Eco Marathon. The name of our car was ElBa. My main responsibility was the electrical motor of the vehicle. Our achievement was a Swedish fuel consumption record with 181.5 km/kW and we ranked 5th in the Urban plug-in electric vehicle category in the Shell Eco Marathon of 2014.

I was also a research assistant in the lab of Energy Conversion of KTH. More specifically I used to work on a project regarding electrical roads. Finally, my best experience as student of KTH was the elaboration of my MSc thesis at ABB LV Motors at Västerås. There, I was able to apply the knowledge that I acquired from the courses to a company that is leader in the field of industrial motors.

How were you able to secure a position at Tesla?

Working at Tesla was always a dream for me. It combines my love for electrical motors and my passion for cars. This is the reason why, when I was close to the completion of my master thesis, I applied for a job as motor designer there. After a few weeks I had interviews with some of Tesla’s engineers. My efforts at KTH were well rewarded, since the interviews went well and Tesla offered me a contract. As you can imagine, this was one of the best days of my life!

At Teslas’ Wikipedia page you can read that “Tesla Motors … designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars, electric vehicle powertrain components, and battery products”, but what’s going to be your main responsibility?

At Tesla, I work as motor design engineer. I belong to the department of powertrain R&D and specifically to the group of the motor electromagnetic design.

What advice would you give students, which are thinking about applying or have been accepted to KTH?

First of all I would highly recommend someone to apply at KTH. From personal experience, I can say that KTH offers high quality studies and gives you all the necessary knowledge in order to fulfil your career dreams. All the master programs at KTH offer study visits, career events and high-end labs. This gives the opportunity not only to get in contact with the companies in Sweden but also to have hands-on experience in the field of your study, something which is crucial when you are about to find a job or start a PhD. Of course another thing that a prospective student should take into consideration is that KTH is located in the beautiful city of Stockholm which ensures that you will spend two wonderful years in one of the most liveable cities in the world!

To those students, who have been accepted at KTH, I would first say congratulations! I firmly believe that KTH is the one of the best options for someone who wants to start a career in industry or academia in the field of engineering. I believe also that you should try to enjoy your student life by taking advantage of all the great amenities that KTH offers. Last but not least, teachers at KTH are really approachable and of course they have great experience in their field. Most of them also have collaboration with industry through common projects. Therefore, if you have questions regarding your courses, your master thesis of even your career dreams, just ask them! They are top-skilled in their field and they will definitely give you a good point of view.