Axel Engelhard is a System Engineer at NXP Germany, focused on in-vehicle
networking. He started off as a working student in 2015, completed his Master
thesis and then joined the now defunct
Automotive Leadership Trainee Program
(ALTP) in 2017. We sat down with Axel to chat about his journey, transitioning
from working student to full-time employment, his passion for engineering and
System Engineer at NXP Germany
NXP: Axel, let’s talk a little bit about your background.
Axel Engelhard: I received my Bachelor degree in General Engineering Science
and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Hamburg Technical
University (TU). Toward the end of my Bachelor, I studied a semester abroad at
Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, which was a great experience!
NXP: Why engineering?
AE: Math and Physics were always my favorite subjects in school, and from the
time I was little, I was passionate about cars! So studying engineering
appeared a good way to combine both passions!
NXP: Makes sense. How did you end up at NXP?
AE: In 2011, I was a founding member of the Formula Student team “e-gnition
Hamburg e.V.” at Hamburg TU. Back then, we had also decided to build an
all-electric race car. NXP got excited about it and decided to sponsor it.
Through the sponsorship and the contacts established with NXP engineers, I
landed my first gig as a working student before moving into a full-time role!
NXP: What were the decisive factors for you in choosing NXP?
AE: During my stint as a student, I liked the work culture at NXP. The former
ALTP program was also a big draw, as it offered job rotation and networking
possibilities combined with soft-skill training and getting valuable feedback
from other trainees.
NXP: How was the transition from being a working student at NXP to a full
AE: It was a bit of a jump into cold water as I moved to Munich in 2017 on
fairly short notice for my first ALTP assignment. At the time, the merger with
Freescale was still quite fresh, so it felt like a great opportunity to
explore another company without actually leaving. Afterward, I returned to
Hamburg for my second ALTP assignment that turned into the position I’m
working in today, only with growing responsibilities.
for students and new graduates at different locations in NXP.
NXP: What have been some of your biggest learnings on the job?
AE: Tons! Especially when it comes to cultural awareness, managing time and
expectations, and also recognizing the beauty of heterogeneous teams with
varying experience levels. While growing “on the job” into my current role as
System Architect within an NPI project, I realized how a beginner can also add
value to an experienced team. When you’re a rookie, you can get away with
asking seemingly simple questions, which may turn out to be very good ones
that help a project identify blind spots. Somebody needs to think outside the
box from time to time and question the status quo!
NXP: And what are the biggest challenges that you’ve faced?
AE: Coming to terms with the fact that I only have a limited amount of time.
So at some point, I cannot partake in any interesting discussion or topic
anymore due to existing and more pressing responsibilities. I suspect this
challenge will remain throughout my career.
NXP: As someone who knows the drill, do you think NXP is appealing enough for
AE: NXP is doing a great job! Personally, I really enjoyed starting my career
with a trainee program and I can imagine that this would attract other young
grads as well. But if I may suggest, perhaps we could add some foosball tables
in the office to appear a bit more cool!
We're looking for innovative, passionate and talented people like you to
join our team.
Learn more about our hiring process and open positions at
NXP: Good idea. Hopefully someone’s taking notes. Lastly, any tips for young
talent joining NXP?
AE: Ask questions to your senior colleagues or managers. How they ended up in
their positions, what challenges they experienced and how they overcame them.
Don’t shy away from asking for support and guidance, nobody expects you to
know everything immediately.