Meet the MEng students behind the Automotive Affinity Group

Jwalant Wadhwa, Parth Kulkarni and Deniz Akyar on their shared interest in the automotive industry, and their paths to the MEng program.

From left to right: Jwalant Wadhwa, Mason Friedberg (MEng alumnus), Parth Kulkarni, Deniz Akyar at their event, TechTalk (Careers in the Automotive Industry) + Meet & Greet

Affinity groups are a unique part of the Fung Institute ecosystem, where students come together and form communities based on their technical and career interests. With the support of the institute, groups typically host social events, career development programs, and speaker series. They act as a space for students to collaborate, connect, and learn from each other in a supportive, peer-led environment.

This year, there are 14 different affinity groups, with focuses ranging from consulting to robotics. Read on to learn more about the leaders of this year’s Automotive Affinity Group.

The Automotive Affinity Group, led by Deniz Akyar, Jwalant Wadhwa, and Parth Kulkarni, aims to connect students in the automotive and transportation sectors and help them engage with industry professionals. This semester, they’re looking forward to hosting speakers and experts from niche areas within the industry to open up new networking opportunities and develop the group’s collective knowledge. Recently, they hosted an event called TechTalk (Careers in the Automotive Industry) + Meet & Greet with the group’s alumni mentor Mason Friedberg, who is an engineer/designer at the Exploratorium and a former senior mechanical engineer in R&D prototyping at Tesla!

From left to right: Deniz Akyar, Parth Kulkarni, Jwalant Wadhwa at the Arcimoto Auto Show on campus.

We had the opportunity to talk to the group leaders about what inspired them to take on this leadership role and what excites them about the automotive industry.

Tell us about yourself!

Jwalant: While a challenging combination of internships and projects has helped me explore my passion for mechanical engineering, my research experience has given wings to this ever-increasing passion and, in turn, has motivated me to thrive in an atmosphere of creativity and endless possibilities by pursuing an MEng in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley and thereby making breakthroughs in its diverse applications, particularly in the automotive industry.

Parth: I’m a Mechanical Engineer, F1 fan, automotive enthusiast, and I’m currently working on 3D printing of metals.

Deniz: I am a graduate student in the Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR) department with a concentration in Management Science & Engineering. I moved to the Bay Area four years ago and have been working as operations manager in the supply chain/logistics sector. I am thankful for the opportunity to lead the automotive/transportation affinity group and look forward to discovering how technology and innovation are shaping the future of this sector with fellow MEng students.

What did you study as an undergrad? Did you have work experience before joining the MEng program?

Jwalant: I pursued my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Institute of Infrastructure, Technology, Research And Management (IITRAM) in India. Amongst other involvements, I had 23 weeks of internship experience with various industry giants pertaining to the nuances of mechanical engineering.

Parth: I studied Mechanical Engineering in India. I worked at a firm for two years as an intern during my junior and senior years of Engineering. My work as an intern included R&D on Materials, Design, and New Product Development.

Deniz: I studied Industrial Engineering in my undergrad and completed a dual diploma program in Turkey and the US. During my undergrad years, I completed internships in the supply chain, sales, and marketing fields in Panasonic and Toyota. After graduation, I worked in the Bay Area in import operations for four years.

What sparked your personal interest in the automotive/transportation sector?

Jwalant: During my undergrad, my ardor for the automotive industry has developed uniquely through numerous vistas. I have had an opportunity to take up two four-week-long projects at Bombardier Transportation, India, wherein I worked on various metro train projects. I also participated in the 5th Formula Imperial — Hybrid Vehicle Challenge, which provided me with an invaluable opportunity to contribute to the design and development of the Powertrain. These experiences, along with the workshop on Automobile Mechanics at IIT Bombay and the professional certificate in Electric Cars offered by TU Delft helped me streamline my fervor to impact the automotive manufacturing industry.

Parth: I’m really interested in Formula 1! Previously, I’ve worked with a Formula Student team and I also worked on various projects during my internship that involved extensive work with the automotive sector.

Deniz: During my undergraduate studies, I did an internship in Toyota which sparked my interest in the automotive sector. Until that time, I did not know which sector I wanted to pursue but I knew I had an interest in lean manufacturing and philosophy of continuous improvement. After Toyota, I also completed a project on this topic with Autoliv and this led me to work in the supply chain/transportation industry after I graduated.

Connect with Jwalant, Parth, and Deniz.

Edited by Danielle Valdez.

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