Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

Integrated Innovation Institute

Ojas Vora (MSTV '20)

Forging a New Path and Seizing Opportunities

Ojas Vora (MSTV ’20) is from a family of engineers and had pictured a path that mirrored his parents, either working in industry as a civil engineer like his father or earning a doctorate like his mother. Instead, he opted for the proverbial Door #3 and is now NeilSoft Inc.’s first US-based product manager.

That third option, enrolling as a dual-degree student in the Institute’s Master of Science in Technology Ventures program, not only set Vora on his own path but also equipped him with cross-functional knowledge and experience.

“I had a lot of pressure. My father was not happy with the decision initially,” said Vora. “This program was unique though. I would be able to use my engineering and research expertise and learn business skills, which are required in today's world. The Tech Ventures degree is an adventure.”

As part of the MSTV program, each student completes a summer internship. Vora described receiving his offer letter from Volvo Group as “one of the best days of my life.” That internship provided him with hands-on experience working on real-life projects in the transportation industry.

Vora also credits the Grand Challenge Innovation course and an independent study with MSTV Program Director Sheryl Root as key factors that distinguished him on the job marketplace. However, nothing prepared the 2020 class for graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was the toughest time for all of us. All of my plans were shattered. One after another, companies announced a hiring freeze. If I applied to 1000 jobs (I lost count), only 20 would get back. Of those, 15 said the position had been cancelled, four rejections, one interview…”

This pattern continued for months, but good luck, networking, and Vora’s iii experience finally resulted in an opportunity with NeilSoft, for which he completed five remote interview rounds spanning months.

“I think outside the box and give a different perspective, a user-centric point of view. I understand developing a product from start to end with the user in mind. I also identify myself as a person who loves to solve real-life challenges. Using the integrated approach of design, engineering, and business, it becomes very easy to solve those problems. I wouldn’t be working with Neilsoft if I didn’t have specialized knowledge in this domain,” said Vora.

Neilsoft is an engineering company servicing an international clientele in the construction, transportation, energy, and industrial machinery sectors. Vora relocated to Michigan for the role and works in asset management on the construction management team where every day presents a new challenge.

“There is a heavy emphasis on BIM (Building Information Models) and product management, both of which I studied during my dual master’s degree. I’m getting to work with the most experienced professionals – chairman, president, senior project engineers – and am involved in the decision-making. It is a great opportunity,” said Vora.