New Opportunities for Engineers in Motorsport

Motorsport Careers

A short interview with Mr. Clive Temple, Programme Director MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering.

Question 1: What are the opportunities for engineers (both graduate and established) in the UK motorsport sector?

Clive: There are really good opportunities for graduate and established engineers in the UK motorsport sector and beyond. Yes some of the F1 teams have experienced financial difficulties but there is much more to motorsport than just F1. The motorsport sector embraces a wide range of companies from the well-known teams to small but dynamic companies providing a plethora of engineering services. There are all the component suppliers and manufacturers too. Interestingly, a valuable segment within motorsport is the historic side as borne out by the interest in events such as the Silverstone Classic and Goodwood meetings. And it’s not just on -track and on four wheels. There is off-road and two wheel, even three wheel motorsport. Britain’s reach is truly global where motorsport engineering and technology is concerned. Companies such as Xtrac are world renowned for their motorsport and high performance transmissions.

Question 2: How are these opportunities growing or changing with the emergence of initiatives such as Formula E?

Clive: Opportunities are changing. Take the Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains activity at Brixworth. These are now powertrains, not just engines as they were once described. There is the integration of energy recovery systems and the Northamptonshire based operation is linked into the heart of Mercedes in Germany, driving its R & D. Environmental considerations are a real dynamic in motorsport with disruptive technologies to the fore. Formula E exemplifies this and so does hybridisation of Le Mans Prototypes that run in endurance racing.

Question 3: What is life like for an engineer in the motorsport sector? What are some of the different roles they could fall into?

Clive: Behind every great driver is a team of talented designers, engineers and mechanics. Hours can be long but the reward is being part of a winning team, whether you are factory based or working trackside. Our postgraduate level graduates leave Cranfield University to go onto roles across many of the key areas of motorsport such as composites specialists, aerodynamicists, structural, CFD, powertrain, data, performance and race engineers. Others are involved in software and electronics. Recently a number of Cranfield alumni have gone into Formula E. Gender should not be a barrier.

Question 4: Can you describe any unusual or exciting projects in UK motorsport that engineers may not think about when considering a career in the sector?

Clive: Companies such as McLaren and Williams are diversifying, transferring technology into other sectors such as defence, aerospace and health. There are so many exciting projects and challenges for engineers that go beyond simply designing, manufacturing and engineering racing cars and bikes. Downsizing powertrains and developing energy recovery systems, initially for the track and then for more mainstream automotive applications require engineers who are innovative.

Question 5: What advice would you give to someone considering an engineering career in UK motorsport?

Clive: You will need to be academically strong where math and physics are concerned. These two subjects are key to developing an understanding of engineering and then applying your engineering expertise in a practical way. You will need to be articulate, able to present your ideas and secure ‘buy-in’ for your innovative ideas. Importantly, no one has ever won a ‘real-time race’ from an armchair. Get out there and get involved!

Clive Temple
Programme Director MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering

Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL
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