If you ask Joana Martins what the best part of her job is, she would say working on test models. The 44-year-old engineer heads prototype development at Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus in Resende, Brazil.

Text: Florian Lehmann

Joana Martins loves the challenges of building completely new vehicles. She first got a taste for this special job when she worked in prototype development at Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus (VWCO) between 2007 and 2011, and has been hooked ever since. After a role in series production, Martins, a mechanical engineer by trade, returned to her old department in 2019. The 44-year-old now heads a team of eleven internal and around 50 external employees in Resende, Brazil — which includes test engineers, analysts, and logistics specialists.

Prototype builder

Joana Martins’ favorite thing about working with truck prototypes is that every day is different. For her, the job is as challenging as it is fulfilling. “If you ask me,” the engineer says with a twinkle in her eye, “working with prototypes is the best part of engineering.” This is because if you want to build a truck from scratch and ultimately bring it into series production, you have to consider a multitude of factors: for example, she and her team have to get hold of special components and decide on the right place to use the right materials, all the while keeping an eye on how all modules and components used can work together in the best possible way.

Tenacious developer

The work Martins does often goes into detail and calls for creative solutions. “Whether we are improving existing models or working on new systems, for instance in the field of electric mobility — it is always about working meticulously to find the solution and not giving up,” she emphasizes. Staying in touch with her colleagues within the TRATON GROUP, both professionally and personally, really helps. Since May 2021, she has been taking part in the HiPo Challenge, an HR development program that includes group training sessions on professional and personal development with colleagues from all TRATON brands. “The HiPo Challenge really helped me grow, personally and professionally. The program gave me an opportunity to see things in a different way,” Joana Martins explains. “Learning how to become a more active listener and getting to know all the other cultures and languages — it really opened my mind.”

Family person

Once the working day is done, Joana Martins likes to head into the garden at the back of her house. She grows all sorts of fruits and vegetables there: tomatoes, lemons, and jaboticaba, a cherry-like tree common in South America. Martins sees the small patch of green as an oasis of sorts, a place where she spends a lot of time with her eight-year-old son and the two family dogs. This is where she recharges her batteries, ready to take on another day of building new truck models.

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