Alumnus Carlos Banks ’11, MS ’13 is on a mission to keep FIU engineering talent in Miami.
Banks is the engineering and quality manager at Vossen Wheels, a local manufacturer of luxury wheels and authorized dealer of custom rims. He began working at Vossen, located in Doral, three years ago as the company began the development of their now TÜV Verified Forged Factory, where team members work on everything from concept to the design of computer models to testing materials and milling. Banks leads the team of engineers and programmers in the development of innovative wheel products. He credits his enthusiasm and preparedness for his job to his coursework at FIU.
Having worked his way up at Vossen, Banks was tasked with recruiting more employees. He sees this new role as a great opportunity to give FIU students a shot at implementing what they’re learning in the classroom in a professional setting.
“I said to myself, if I’m going to do this, I want FIU… FIU produces talented engineers. Their graduates are sought out by companies like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Cummins, and I want to keep that talent here in Miami,” Bank says.
Vossen Wheels began inviting student organizations and clubs to tour their facilities and apply for internship positions, leading to the development of their internship program. FIU’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has been part of this program, participating in annual tours and having several members work as Vossen interns. SAE aims to have their members successfully enter the automotive industry, a mission they accomplish by participating in competitions, the development of their Formula One racecar, and the members’ consistent landing of internships and jobs at companies like FCA, Cummins and Vossen Wheels.
Current student, Erick Almeida, toured the Vossen Wheels facility this past fall with the SAE team and, having submitted his resume for review, was given the opportunity to work as an intern. He says the internship allows him to further apply his coursework and the work he does as the SAE team’s powertrain manager.
“It helps FIU’s students acquire experience needed to grow in this ever-competitive job market,” Almeida says. “The experience I have with CAD, making and modifying parts for manufacturing and working with software became second nature.”
Some of Vossen Wheels’ interns have even been hired. Christian Gonzalez’s three-month internship led to a full-time position programming CNC machines used for industrial manufacturing.
“After the internship, I was offered an opportunity to work as a full-time employee in the programming department. My job is to use SolidWorks and CAMworks, a SolidWorks Add-in, to produce the code that is used by the milling and lathing machines that cut our forged wheels. I also advise the engineering department on the manufacturability of certain design features and fitments,” Gonzalez says.
When asked about Banks’ passion for hiring FIU students and alumni, Gonzalez said, “Carlos has confidence that students that are hired as interns or full-timers are going to have the technical knowledge and the work ethic that is desired from everyone here at Vossen.”
Banks says: “Engineering was always it for me… everyday I’m working with modeling and simulations, and that passion was born in class,” he adds.
That passion didn’t go unnoticed. Wei-Yu Bao, who teaches programming, simulation software and robotics among other things, describes his former student as, “…a talented young man. He constantly worked hard in class and pursued his career goals successfully.”