I graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2014 with a First Class (honours) Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering (MEng). When I first applied to university I planned to specialise in Automotive Engineering, but given that so much of what you learn on an broad mechanical degree is geared towards automotive, I decided to keep my degree more open. This meant that during my fourth year I had the oppertunity to conduct my individual final year project in the field of micro-machining, experimenting with biomimetics - mimicing the micro-scale bio-structure on gecko's toe pads in PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) for use in surgical robotics. The results of the micro-molding can be seen in the SEM images below.
My interest in the automotive industry was encouraged by the University of Birmingham's externally run projects, in particular the 'Aston Martin Breakdown', where we got to take apart an Aston Martin and analyse its parts. My team won an award for our analysis of the air intake which meant we got to visit the Aston Martin factory and have a trip round their testing track. [You can see a video about the project from 2012, which features my team, here!] I was also awarded the Air Products PLC Design Award for the highest grade in an individual design project (1st year).
During September 2012, I spent a month in rotation at Mercedes AMG Petronas F1, working in the Research and Development, Model Shop, and Aerodynamics departments. An example of the work I designed as part of the Aerodynamics team can be seen below.
Formula Student & UBRacing
I joined the University of Birmingham's Formula Student team, UBRacing during my second year of university, originally as a photographer as I had some experience photographing motorsport. Quickly, I ended up 'in charge' of the media team - I actually started the media team, realising that no one was doing any promoting to help raise the £25k p.a. needed to run the team. This initially included updating the outdated website as well as putting up together some rudimentary promotional leaflets to give out to potential sponsors.
As the team has a large turn-over with a new student intake and the older students graduating, I quickly moved up the ranks, becoming Head of Media, Sponsorship and (somewhat reluctantly) Bodywork. Securing funds for the team through sponsorship was always challenging, especially with the reduction in funding from the university and the recession hitting a lot of our long-term sponsors meaning they had to pull out. Despite this, we managed to secure Aston Martin as one of our major sponsors and also began to receive more support from Delcam, one of our older sponsors. You can watch a video about Delcam's involvement with the team here. (Please forgive my rather dishevelled appearance in this video! It was filmed partially at Silverstone at the Formula Student UK competition and where we traditionally get no sleep!)
Alongside by media and sponsorship duties, I was also Head of Bodywork during my second year on the team (my third year at university), responsible for overseeing the manufacturing and ultimately designing the bodywork for the 2012-13 car (UBR16, car 91). After a good deal of set-backs, I took on the job of designing the bodywork myself, learning the Catia CAD software from scratch and designing the bodywork to fit the chassis ready for machining within two days. Given the time constraints for the design, the '1990s F1 Style' bodywork was quite well received - and most importantly it did it's job of protecting the driver! During the 2012-13 season I was also given an honourable mention by the commentators at the Formula Student UK event at Silverstone Racecourse for giving the team a more professional, business-like look through better designed promotional materials and smarter kit.
My final year in the team coincided with my final year of my degree - a combination that isn't recommended by the undergraduate tutors - so I streamlined my role to Head of Media, assisting the Team Principal with the project management of the team on the side. With three years of experience, I finished the overhaul of the promotional material, consistently updating the team's social media and alumni newsletter as well as ensuring the team had exhibition posters and display material they could use for years to come. At the end of the 2013-14 season, I was nominated by my team for the Role Model of the Year Award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) Awards.
I am continually grateful for the experiences I had during my time in UBRacing, and as part of Formula Student as a whole, and continue to be an active member of their alumni, attending events and helping students on the current team.