Hilltop High School at Tesla


Wednesday, September 18, 2019 | Hilltop High School at Tesla | by Joseph Alter, IGNITE Advisor

Student N & her son, L, Student S, Student M & her son, F, Student K & her son
                  and Mr. Alter, their teacher. (Not all students pictured in photo.)

“I liked that Tesla [employees] really listened to my questions and gave me good 

advice and feedback.” - Student S, Hilltop High School student


Seven Hilltop High School students had an opportunity to visit Tesla Headquarters, a world leader in sustainable energy, at the Palo Alto, California location on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Tesla team warmly welcomed the Hilltop students into their “home” of innovation. And the high school students were enthralled by the technology of the Tesla company and touched by the wonderful “spirit” of the Tesla family. The hard work of Nicole Raley Vadivel, Cell Modeling Engineering, is appreciated. The students recognize that her team all took time away from their busy work schedule to provide a wonderful student experience. This was greatly appreciated - by students and teacher alike. Students were excited to hear from an all women panel of Tesla employees: Engineering Sr. Manager, Amber; Engineering Technician, Sarah; Service Engineer, Jing; Audio Architect, Janhavi, each of whom made this an experience to remember.  

After introductions, students learned about the company’s pure-electric propulsion technology, and its transportation, solar panels, and integrated renewable energy solutions for the public and private industry. This presentation informed the students understanding of the function of multiple technologies from artificial intelligence, batteries, electric motors and sensors.  Two highlights for the students, was learning how several of the panelists balance being an employee and a parent and that attending a community college was a pragmatic, inexpensive approach into engineering. Samantha, one of the Hilltop High School students during the Q&A after the panel presentation, expressed such an interest in engineering, that the following day an email was sent to encourage her to attend aeronautical engineering school upon her high school graduation.

Pictured to the left of Hilltop High School student, Student L, is Student M, and her son. Student M had this to say, “I enjoy[ed] getting into the Tesla car and having [one of the Tesla team members] show us [car] features.”


During lunch, Tesla employees took small teams of students on a tour of their car and explained some of the history behind the Tesla car.

“I am interested in [becoming] an engineer.” Student N, Hilltop High School student
Pictured: Student N and her son


After lunch, the students split up into smaller groups of two to three, each led by Tesla employees. At the beginning of the workshop session, the Tesla team introduced themselves, and the work they are currently doing at Tesla. These volunteers from the company were supportive and asked students critical questions to encourage student interaction. Students were encouraged to think about their educational and career interests. Members of the team also shared why they chose a pathway in the STEM field and their own personal experiences in these careers. 


IGNITE Advisor, Mr. Alter, with Student L, Student A, and Student K with her son

Student F and Interning Counselor, Mimi

We ended this inspiring day with student goodbyes and an excitement of seeing Tesla Headquarters and women employees in person. Students left with insight in the tech field and the wage/gender/diversity gaps. The students were reminded why the tech field needs them to become the next leaders!


The Hilltop School nurse, Vanessa, noted that, “The students showed interest in the Tesla car battery function and the music speakers. They even had a chance to see the frame of the battery and test out the music speakers inside a Tesla. It was nice to see them having fun and at the same time learning about the opportunities in the engineering field.” 


A huge thank you to Tesla Company and the amazing volunteers who greeted students from the security staff and the logistics team. The Tesla family made this a memorable event.

After attending this event:


of girls/non-binary students are more interested in STEM