Mi'kmaw youth from N.B. paves his own way, accepts job at Tesla

Ben Ward is Mi'kmaw from Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation and will start as a research and development technician for Tesla in January.   (submitted by Ben Ward.  - image credit)
Ben Ward is Mi'kmaw from Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation and will start as a research and development technician for Tesla in January. (submitted by Ben Ward. - image credit)

This past summer Ben Ward entered a contest to save repair times on Tesla's super manifold.

The 23-year-old had no idea his winning submission to the Tech-A-Thon would eventually land him a full time offer from the green energy automotive giant.

"I've just willed it," said Ward.

"Since I started with Tesla, I've paved my own way to where I wanted to go."

In January he's moving to Fremont, Calif. to work as a research and development technician. Ward said he'll focus on researching repair efficiency for Tesla and working to reduce parts waste.

He's always enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked — and putting them back together. At 16 he overhauled his first car engine, but he admits that was more out of necessity.

"I didn't have the money to pay another garage to do the repairs," said Ward.

It was at 13, when he was working with his dad in their shop, he figured out he preferred working with his hands.

Ward, from Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation, 128 km north of Moncton lived on and off reserve growing up. He said he was always intrigued by the engineering profession, but knew the academic route was not for him.

Instead, Ward took to the trades and entered the automotive program at the New Brunswick Community College in 2018.

"I always had a short attention span sitting in a classroom," said Ward.

Although Ward felt he had a short attention span in classrooms, his former automotive instructor Adam Estabrooks said he was a remarkable student.

"Ben already knew way more than the average student, he really could have just gone through an apprenticeship," said Estabrooks.

submitted by Adam Estabrooks
submitted by Adam Estabrooks

Ward was quiet, professional and was top of his class. When Estabrooks' former employer Buick was looking for help in Moncton, he referred Ward, because he knew Ward had lots of potential.

To see his student reaching larger goals was an "amazing feat."

"[Going from] 2018 and 2019 in school and then working with Tesla in California in not even three years, that's quite a feat," said Estabrooks.

Ward's biggest challenge of late was learning the complex diagnostics of a Tesla. Compared to a gas powered vehicle, Tesla's are more like computers, he said and that's taken some getting used to.

Now he's up to speed, he says he's hopeful he can innovate even more in his new position.

"My proudest moment was receiving the offer for this job."