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As one of Prodrive's recent intake of Graduates, Tharcika Karrunavannan, is already contributing to successful projects thanks to her different background and her drive to learn more. We asked her to give an insight into her first few months, here's what she had to say.

What attracted you to a career in Engineering?

I have always been interested in maths from a young age, and solving a challenging problem was and still is such a satisfying feeling. So Engineering seemed a natural career to continue that.

What University did you study at and what course did you study? How does this relate to your work at Prodrive?

I gained a M.Eng. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Aberdeen. Even though the field I studied is completely different to the field that I am now working within, the basic skills of solving challenging problems and thinking of innovative solutions remains the same, it is still Engineering. My experience in the petroleum industry helps add value to the Advanced Technology team at Prodrive by bringing difference experiences and viewpoints into the group.

Tell us in your own words about your start to life at Prodrive.

I feel like the role is best described as a graduate engineer as we are allocated to live client projects from day one.

It’s been great to be directly involved in projects and see the result of my decisions being implemented in the final solutions the company produces for clients.

What is your role at Prodrive and what does it involve? What’s a typical day in your job?

My day tends to be different almost every day which is what I love about Prodrive. There have been days where I have been needed by the build team to help put parts together, and there have been days where I would be needed to research on various case studies to create a presentation for a possible client.

Every day is new and unique, which means endless learning opportunities.

What sort of projects do you get to work on?

In my first few months I have been heavily involved in a low-volume manufacture project, where we built and commissioned 10 production machines for a government project. I ensured that all necessary parts were ordered for the build team and worked on successfully commissioning the builds before they were sent off to clients.

I am currently working on a high-end aerospace interiors project, and am working within the CAE team to provide analysis for various parts of the design and provide data for improvements.

What’s the most exciting part of your job at Prodrive?

The best part of my job is having the chance to learn and do something new almost every day.

I have been in situations where I am requested to do something completely new, that I have never done before, however it is the trust that Prodrive have in me, as well as successfully completing the task, is what makes me enjoy what I am doing!

What attracted you to Prodrive Advanced Technology?

Innovative technology is part of our future and being apart of a team that solidly works towards that is such a great opportunity for me to be at the heart of that change.

Describe the culture at Prodrive Advanced Technology?

Everyone is approachable and happy to help, they are great teammates! They do love to throw you in at the deep end, but they do so with their full trust and support.

What makes working for Prodrive unique?

Senior engineers and managers are very approachable, and all are very happy to help when you need them. Everyday can be different. When working on the government project, one day I was doing office paperwork, the next day I was building parts together and another day I was working on the software commissioning part of the build.

Describe how your assigned Technical Mentor has helped you.

My mentor is Ryan, and he has helped me understand what I am supposed to work towards to be promoted from being a Graduate Engineer to an Engineer, so I already know how I can progress my career here at Prodrive. In the short term. He has also supported and provided vast amounts of technical help on Altair software and Multi Body Systems, which are completely new to me.

Tharcika, a Prodrive graduate, sits at a computer next to here mentor Ryan as they study the screen together
Tharcika and Ryan, her Technical Mentor, working together on an MBS project

There is also a 'Buddy System' as part of the Graduate entry, can you describe how it helps someone new to Prodrive?

You feel a sense of comfort and are able to talk to someone about anything whether it is work or general support from the beginning, so it helps you settle in to working life at Prodrive.

Your buddy helps break the ice and they can introduce you to many other team members without you feeling alone. Also they provide technical support related to their area expertise, so I’m picking up knowledge all the time.

Where do you see the Prodrive Graduate Scheme taking you and what would you like to do in the future?

I’m looking forward to learning more new skills, and advancing to the level of an Engineer. Having a greater, in-depth understanding of Multi Body Systems (MBS) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) really interests me, and I can’t wait to see what more challenging tasks and responsibilities come my way.

What would you say to an Undergraduate researching for Graduate Schemes would like to know about Prodrive or your experience so far?

Go in with an open mind as you may be put into projects that maybe you weren’t expecting to be involved in, but you’ll gain lots of knowledge and new skill in the process!


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