Art and Science: Liv Adams ‘16 Practices Svadhyaya and Systems Engineering

Fast cars and yoga, on the surface at least, represent two different lifestyles—but Liv Adams ‘16 has struck a unique balance between these two worlds. A certified yoga instructor, Adams recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin her engineering career at Tesla, Inc.

Adams completed an undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering (ISE). The breadth of career opportunities this field’s graduates pursue across diverse industries is what sparked her interest.

“It’s kind of like a technical business degree,” Adams said of ISE. “You are using engineering to make ‘systems’ faster, leaner, and more efficient, all to produce higher quality goods or services. Coming into college not having my heart set on any particular type of engineering, ISE just made sense when it was described to me.”

Adams maximized her experience as an ISE major by becoming involved and taking on leadership roles in professional associations such as the Society of Manufacturing Engineering, the Institute for Industrial and System Engineers, and Alpha Pi Mu honor society. Beyond affording her connections with upperclass student mentors and opportunities to attend conferences and tour factories, Adams’ participation in these organizations helped strengthen her understanding of how she, as an industrial engineer, could add value to a company.

In addition to the Park Scholarships program, Adams credits the ISE community with making her time at NC State memorable and meaningful.

“That was really driven by my mentor, Dr. Anita Vila-Parrish,” Adams said. “She convinced me to study abroad, coached me for technical interviews, and became a friend even outside of the classroom. She coincidentally also just moved to San Francisco, so I am excited that it will be even easier to stay in touch.”

Adams highlighted faculty mentorship as one of the most important components of the Park Scholarships experience, and encourages new Park Scholars to take full advantage of these relationships.

A Charlotte native who attended high school in England, Adams studied and interned in locations near and far throughout her college years. With support from Park Enrichment Grants, she spent the summer following her freshman year studying at NC State’s Prague Institute in the Czech Republic and interning with Voith Industrial Services in Bratislava, Slovakia. She also completed internships with Eaton Corporation in Fayetteville, N.C. and JPMorgan Chase in Chicago.

Seeking an even more significant professional immersion opportunity, Adams decided to pursue a cooperative education program (co-op) with Tesla Motors in Fremont, Calif. the spring and summer of her junior year. While initially apprehensive to add a semester to her undergraduate career, Adams found her co-op to be an especially worthwhile experience that informed her next steps.

Following graduation from NC State in December, Adams returned to Tesla as a powertrain quality engineer. In this role, she works to resolve problems that occur during car battery production for Models S and X and the highly-anticipated Model 3.

“The powertrain is what makes the car drive, so it’s really the heart of the car,” said Adams. “It’s a very varied job. I was drawn to it because you work along with all different parts of the company—design, manufacturing, service. You get to learn from a lot of people, and you are all working to deliver the best possible product to the clients.”

Outside of engineering-related activities, Adams has cultivated a longtime interest in yoga. She began practicing yoga in high school for fun and fitness, and appreciated how each teacher’s personal style influenced the class dynamic.

She said, “I was always taking my friends to classes and I thought, ‘Hey, I could be leading these classes!’”

At sPark 2016, the Park Scholarships’ first biannual leadership and networking symposium, Adams solidified her yoga goal.

“Dr. Ricky Bloomfield ‘02 gave a really inspiring keynote during the first day about following through on your ‘spark,’” Adams recalled. “All the time he was talking, I was thinking about yoga teacher training and how it was something that I wanted to do. He encouraged us to email him to hold ourselves accountable. I did, and signed up for training shortly thereafter.”

Adams recently completed her 200th hour of training to become a certified yoga teacher. She said practicing yoga has challenged her mentally and physically, improved her self-awareness, and introduced her to new people. Adams also noted a connection between yoga and one of the Park Class of 2016’s recurring discussion themes—”Who am I?”—that she and her classmates first explored at their freshman retreat.

“From day one the Park Scholarships program has challenged me to be the best I can be,” said Adams. “I think that is was gave me the drive to pursue opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Above all the money, knowledge, and experiences, the Park program gave me my best friends in college—people who, by being around them, have made me a better person.”