About the Company
Solar Turbines is a $2 billion annual revenue-generating subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. and is headquartered in San Diego. The company designs and manufactures gas turbines and compressors for oil and gas applications.
I took Professor Hyoduk Shin’s Operations class (Management 413) and recognized the importance of supply chain management. He highlighted how Tim Cook – the CEO of Apple Inc. – is an operations guy, and that Amazon is successful because of its supply chain. Elon Musk even said, “The supply chain stuff is really tricky.” I felt supply chain was a good field to master. A few students from the 2018 Full-Time MBA cohort interned in the supply chain department at Solar Turbines the previous summer and spoke very highly of their experience. As a local company, Solar Turbines targets UC San Diego and Rady School students for its internship program. Rady Career Connections provided my resume to Solar Turbines for a supply chain internship, and I was very fortunate to receive an offer for the summer internship program.
My manager, Jason Brown, leads the team responsible for ordering filter (air inlet filtration) parts, and saw that my electrical engineering and computer science background and MBA are a rare skillset, so he devised a new summer project that would capitalize on both skills. He identified that Solar Turbines needed a revamped product management tool to measure the Life-Cycle Cost of operating a Solar Turbines engine based on different filter mediums.
I was up for the challenge, so I decided to meet with technical leads and engineers and refined the vision of the new tool. After reading a few research papers about life-cycle cost, I found a more accurate model in a research paper authored by a Solar Turbines engineer and used it as a baseline. When I told the engineers what I aimed to make, they were in disbelief. One engineer asked, “When does your internship end? You’re going to make that in a month?” I boldly replied, “Yes. I will.” And I did it. When I started, I didn’t know Visual Basic. I learned the language and coded a seven-page UserForm to run accurate life-cycle cost simulations. The simulator does side-by-side cost comparisons to convince customers to choose one filter medium over another.
When I demonstrated the program to Solar Turbines executives, the reception was great. Senior principal engineers thanked me for the awesome work. My second level manager said it was fantastic. The Executive Sponsor of the Internship Program (the Director of Engineering) showed his gratitude, said it was the best implemented summer project and noted that it will be adopted by the company. Terra Saltzman-Baker, Director of Rady Career Connections, came to the presentation for support. Additionally, my product management professor at Rady, Vish Krishnan, stopped by the office to see a demo of the program as well. This internship was a remarkable experience, and I’m glad I could make an impact this summer.
The internship was filled with many events hosted by the internship program coordinators, Ryan McKennon and Jericho Menvielle. We enjoyed campus tours, business unit overviews, professional mixers, an intern lunch, a happy hour and a summer BBQ. Work-life balance is an essential part of the Solar Turbines culture.
Joey Talia graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). He went on to work at Intel for over five years as a Circuit Designer and is now pursuing his MBA at UC San Diego – Rady School of Management (MBA ‘19). He is the president of the Rady Technology Club.