Pradeep Shenoy wants to continue pushing power further: more electric vehicles (EVs), more solar installations and a transition to more sustainable energy. The best way to do that, he says, is to help young engineers realize their potential and capability – just as mentors helped him grow from an intern to a leader at our company.
When he’s not solving system-level challenges for automotive customers, Pradeep chairs the 2023 Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC), which is the premiere gathering for engineers who focus on power electronics. He is passionate about removing barriers that may prevent people from attending industry conferences and furthering their careers. Under his leadership, APEC is rolling out innovative programs at this year’s conference – including childcare services, lactation stations for mothers and a student job fair – to provide a more inclusive environment.
He recently sat down to discuss how he engineered his career from intern to leader, what to expect at APEC 2023, and his passion to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Question: What path led you to TI’s automotive power design services team?
Pradeep: I’ve always loved math and physics, but my freshman year of college I was an undeclared engineering major — which means I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I kind of wandered into electrical engineering because my resident adviser during my sophomore year was a graduate student in a power electronics lab. I wanted some practical experience, so I began soldering circuit boards for him. I was happy because I was getting exposure to things I wouldn’t otherwise have experienced.
I started as a summer intern at TI in 2011 and later was offered an opportunity to join Kilby Labs, which is our company’s applied research lab that serves as an incubator for breakthrough ideas. During my time in Kilby Labs, I developed some new power management technology that reduced the size of power converters.
Now I’m privileged to lead the automotive power design services team. We do a lot of fun things. We work closely with customers to solve their power-design challenges. Much of our focus is on the electrification of vehicles, but it extends to infotainment, including displays, and advanced driver assistance systems. We’re working to enable high-compute capability chips to support a more autonomous driving experience.
Q: Tell us about APEC. What is its appeal for you?
Pradeep: APEC is the flagship conference of the power electronics industry. The conference does a great job of providing technical content for engineers across the experience spectrum: from students to seasoned professionals. It includes an education seminar this year, “Common Mistakes in Power Supply Designs,” that I co-authored. However, its other major benefits are in networking and soft skills — getting attendees connected with others across the industry.
It brings together people from different parts of the power electronics community, which in turn can lead to opportunities, partnerships and leadership roles. I’ve certainly benefited from that aspect of the event.
For younger, aspiring engineers, there are several student competitions on display like the FIRST Robotics event, which is a big student robotics competition that will hold a demo during APEC. For the first time this year, we are hosting a student job fair for those starting their career.
I love going to the conference. I’ve learned so much from it and come up with some of my best ideas from making connections there. In one week of APEC, I can meet with a lot of customers and industry colleagues and learn new things. I want other people to experience that.
Q: You pushed for APEC to offer childcare services for the first time. Why was that important to you?
Pradeep: After a tough few years where conferences had to go virtual due to COVID, I wanted APEC to create an experience that encourages people to attend. Part of that is making it as accessible as possible. My wife sometimes goes to conferences and has had some pretty poor experiences as a working mother. So, that was one of the reasons I said, ‘Hey, this year we need to have lactation stations where moms can pump or feed their children.’ I wanted to have childcare services to make it accessible to working parents. Also, with the conference being in Orlando, Fla. — where Disney World is located — and being scheduled around spring break, people will want to bring their families. My kids have been saving their pennies to go to Disney World, so they’re excited.
Q: Why is it important for women to have more opportunities in engineering?
Pradeep: I’ve had the privilege of working with some fantastic female engineers, and a number of them have been pivotal in my career. I’m blessed with two daughters. I don’t want to push them in any direction in their careers, but I hope they will have equal access and opportunity in whatever they pursue. Historically, engineering has been a male-dominated profession, but I want this profession to be accessible to all, regardless of their background. I would, of course, be happy if one or both of my daughters wanted to be engineers. I just want them to have the opportunity to have fulfilling careers, exactly as I have.
Q: How does TI support engineering graduates in their career journey?
Pradeep: There are different paths that graduates can take. Some become academics or work at a national lab. And that’s great. But by working for a company in the semiconductor industry, you’re in the middle of shaping the future of technology, working on cool innovations like the industry’s most accurate battery cell and pack monitors, or the industry’s first stand-alone active EMI filter ICs. You’re in the fight, in the thick of it. You get to experience all the highs and lows. Sure, it can be intense, but the joy of solving problems and the sense of accomplishment is immeasurable. And at TI, I’ve been fully supported throughout my career. You may be challenged at times, but there will always be people and mentors who can help you. I count myself as one of them.
I often have the opportunity to visit universities around the world and talk to students who are still trying to figure out what to do with their lives. It’s exciting for me to see them understand what TI is doing and where the world is heading. I’m grateful that TI allows me to connect with students and help them see their potential.
Q: What makes you excited about the future of automotive power design?
Pradeep: We’re in a unique time in history. Fifteen years ago, I’m not sure any of us could have imagined the growth and scale of EVs today. Our innovations in high-voltage technology are helping power EVs, eliminating barriers to EV adoption and enabling engineers to achieve extended battery range, increase system reliability and lower design costs.
What excites me is that we’re creating the future. Engineers at TI are often working on things with customers that won’t go into production for two to three years. Our company’s passion is to create a better world by making electronics more affordable through semiconductors — and semiconductors for EVs are a big part of that.