WVU Tech alumnus lands internship with Tesla
Antonio Fernández Castaño came to Tech from San Jose de La Rinconada, Seville, Spain, because of soccer and the mechanical engineering program. He knew he would have a chance to be a student-athlete and continue soccer while getting his engineering degree.
“My main goal was to be able to help people. From a young age, I really liked to mess with things in my house to see how everything works, how to fix things or design new things, that kind of stuff. I knew my path was engineering, specifically mechanical,” Fernández explained.
He was also impressed with the small class sizes at Tech.
“I thought it would be better for my learning experience, and it really was,” he said. “It’s a really efficient way to learn everything and get to interact with your classmates. It was great.”
He took advantage of the small class sizes and the opportunities at Tech. He was president of Pi Tau Sigma, a mechanical engineering honor society, president of the Fluid Power Club, which competed in the National Fluid Power Association National Challenge, member of Tau Beta Pi and member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. All those experiences, he says, helped shape who he was and helped him land his internship.
Fernández graduated in May of 2022. He knew that he wanted to go into the industry but that he also wanted to do research. This led him on a journey to get his master’s degree at the University of Nevada – Reno, where he is currently a graduate research assistant.
“After graduation, I wanted to further my education to better myself because I want to work in the industry but also wanted to do research. I wanted to know how things worked at a higher level,” he said. “I thought it was a great way to get research and work experience.”
While at Tech, he found a mentor who helped him weigh his options when it came to finding a graduate program.
“I had a great advisor and mentor, Dr. Panta. He explained to me how graduate school works. I came to him with several options. He told me, your success will be my success, and that’s something I will always remember,” he said.
He also connected with another mechanical engineering alumnus, Brett Floyd, who remains a mentor to him. He says Floyd really helped him understand what to expect in the automotive industry. They connected during his junior year and are still in contact today.
“He always gave me really good advice. I even called him just a couple of weeks ago, he is always available,” Fernández said.
Fernández had several internships and valuable experiences while at Tech, including two in his home country of Spain and one in the United States, where he explored renewable energy, solar panels and clean energy. He hopes to work in the automotive industry and with electric vehicles, so landing an internship at Tesla is a huge opportunity for him. He credits his mentor at WVU Tech and the experiences he had while at Tech to help get him to that point.
To land a competitive internship at Tesla, he started by just going to a career fair, where Tesla had a booth. He asked the engineers how they liked working there, and what it was like to be in their position.
“You hear Tesla and think oh that’s super cool, but I wanted to know how it really was working there,” he said.
With interest shown and a connection made, the engineers from Tesla sent Fernández an email a week after to come to the Giga factory in Nevada. They gave him a tour and had a great experience.
“I was super excited, and I loved it. It was a process for them to see how involved you are. They get thousands and thousands of applicants, so they wanted to see how much you wanted to be there. Afterward, they had a day where students are invited to go to the factory. They have tables set up and they showcase what they do and what teams they have,” he explained.
As he worked his way through the room, he said the engineers and those working for Tesla were impressed when hearing about projects Fernández had been a part of at Tech. He also brought his CV with him because he said he wasn’t sure what to expect. This also left an impression on the Tesla team. They told him they were already interested in selecting him as an intern. He had a typical interview for the position and eventually landed the internship.
“Get yourself out there and be prepared for anything,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect that day. Maybe at a career fair you expect to talk to teams of people, but not always.
He says his advice to Tech grads would be to take chances.
“Put yourself out there, get prepared for any opportunities that come,” he said. “The main thing really was just putting myself out there. If you don’t put yourself out there and they (potential employers) don’t get to know you, you don’t get a chance.”
Fernández will start his internship with Tesla next month.
In addition to his graduate studies, he’s also a very involved and dedicated alumnus and strives to give back to Tech in any way he can, even though he’s 2,401 miles away from Beckley. Though he just graduated last May, he’s signed up for the career mentorship program.
“Tech really cared about me and I’m trying to somehow give back with whatever I can help with, make myself available for whoever needs me,” he explained.
He had a great mentor and wanted to try to give that opportunity to others - he wants to pay it forward.
“It was a great experience with my classmates, professors, everything. For everyone, going to college is a big change, but even more so if you’re an international student. You’re moving away from your family and it’s tough, you know? People were always there for us though. All my friends had the same feeling – we all so appreciated how much people cared about us and made things easier,” he said.
“The community is great. Everywhere you go, there are people that truly care about
you. Faculty, career services, student success services, student life – everywhere
you go there is someone who really cares. That’s what separates Tech from other