Most people believe the false narrative about Mexicans that involves siestas and menial jobs. When I point out that color television was invented by a Mexican, Guillermo González Camarena, the normal retort is no way. When it comes to Mexican engineers the reactions are of incredulous faces. The general belief is that Mexicans aren’t the engineer types. The faulty notion is trumped quickly when the facts become known. In 2011, the United States graduated 83,000 undergraduate engineers while México delivered 75,575 engineers in the same year. This, according to UNESCO. But the notion remains that Mexicans are menial job holders.

Tesla, arguably the last truly iconic U.S.-based car manufacturer, found out recently that the engineering pool of U.S. workers could not satisfy its need for engineers. Tesla is also well-known for its technology prowess meaning that engineers working for the company must be of the highest caliber possible. Notwithstanding Donald Trump’s constant tirades about Mexican immigrants taking jobs away from U.S. workers, Tesla was forced to look to México to fill its need for engineers.

Here are the two issues that Tesla’s recruitment of Mexican engineers signifies. The first is lack of qualified engineers in the U.S. The second is qualified Mexican immigrants can perform high-tech jobs in the United States.

Reuters was the first to write about Tesla looking for Mexican engineers.

Per Reuters on May 6, 2017; “Engineers from across Mexico streamed into a cramped hotel lobby in the industrial city of Monterrey for a chance of a job with the U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), which is looking south of the border for talent in short supply at home.”

Tesla’s inability to find U.S. engineers is not unique to Tesla. For years now there has been a debate about whether there truly is a lack of engineers in the United States. Many have argued that the issue is not about the number of engineers, but rather the quality of engineers.

What companies like Tesla and Silicon Valley types want are the best engineers that they can recruit. To them it doesn’t matter where they are from, but rather that they are the best of the best.

Clearly, Mexican engineers are the best of the best completely destroying the notion of tequila-drinking-sombrero-wearing-siesta-taking stereotype that many wrongly believe about Mexicans.

An innovative company like Tesla isn’t looking for cheap, they are looking for talented engineers that can drive the next generation of innovative technologies. They simply can’t find the quality engineers within the ranks of U.S. engineers and thus they go to México to find the people that will be building the next generation of cars to be labelled, made in America.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “Mexican Engineers for Tesla”

  1. Mexico has great engineers because we’ve migrated enough manufacturing down there to give them great experience. The U.S. engineering shortages are the result of our acceptance of a service economy. Manufacturing creates transformational jobs. At a production worker level that is a path to a living wage for production operators willing to train and acquire more skills over time. At an engineering level that translates to better (able to deliver higher value results) engineers. The real test with Tesla is will they pay Mexican engineers as well as they pay U.S. engineers or will they give them a slight bump in pay that keeps them discounted compared to US engineering salaries.

  2. Martin, no doubt Mexico has a lot well qualified professionals. But like the Italians there will always be an image problem.

  3. Mexico has the most creative architects in the El Paso region, IMHO. As for the “tequila-drinking-sombrero-wearing-siesta-taking gringo”, that’s me these days 🙂

  4. Why wouldn’t Mexico have great engineers? It’s in the Mexican DNA – builders of great pyramids, Tenochtitlan (now that’s some engineering), and they gave us the number 0 (zero). These are a few things that come to my mind at the moment.

    When I was reading on the history of zero I asked some of my engineering friends if they would be able to do their engineering calculations without zero. I thought that was an interesting query.

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