Engine Systems Alum Follows Childhood Passion, Lands At Ford

To Gianluca Mantovano, completing his Master of Engineering: Engine Systems degree was an easy decision.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Mantovano. “Every class had its place and fit into what I needed for my career.”

Now an Engine Systems alum, Mantovano works at Ford Motor Company in engine component calibration and controls. His career and education helped him journey from a young engine hobbyist to an expert in his field.

Mantovano’s automotive passions were nurtured by his family. Both of his parents are originally from Italy, and according to Mantovano, they taught him the importance of hard work and dedication. His father worked in avionics and imbued him with a similarly mechanically-inclined mindset.

“I was constantly with him. Fixing things in the garage, helping him build the deck. All of the ins and outs of building technical stuff,” he said.

By the time Mantovano began an introductory power mechanics course in high school, he was already fascinated by the intricacies of the internal combustion engine.

“This technology is over a century old, and there is still so much refinement taking place. I started to notice how much room there was for improvement even then,” he said.

Inspired by his first contact with engine work and observing the innovation taking place in high mileage vehicle competitions across the Midwest, Mantovano and a teacher started a team where they worked on an engine getting 140 miles per gallon, an impressive achievement at the high school level.

“So pretty much from that point onwards I knew I wanted to focus on changing our paradigm of transportation,” he said.  “When it came time, I applied for a bunch of different bachelors of engineering programs.”

Mantovano decided he couldn’t beat UW-Madison. He began his freshman year by joining the Formula SAE Racing Team, and by his sophomore year, the team took home the world championship for the first time.

After graduation, he secured a position with Ford, and as his responsibilities evolved he became comfortable with his position.

“It was time to take it to the next level,” Mantovano said.

Mantovano began the Engine Systems program in the fall of 2014 and completed the program in fall 2017. The unique variety of classes kept him engaged.

“What this program really helped me see is all of the different aspects of the internal combustion engine, not just the design itself,” he said. “How do I manage the people? How do I get the designers to get these parts manufactured? How am I working out warranty?”

According to Mantovano, while the program benefitted him, the time commitment was sometimes challenging.

“I didn’t realize how much time I was dedicating to my education until I graduated,” he said.

Despite this, Mantovano felt that getting his master’s was well worth it. The engine systems degree has improved his value to Ford, and is helping him pursue further positions.

Looking back, Mantovano is proud that he followed passions that began in his youth.

“As humans we only have so much time on this earth, and in that time I want to learn as much as I can,” he said. “I recommend this program to anybody who is motivated to challenge themselves and continue learning.”