Although quiet on the racing front due to lack of funding in recent times, James’ involvement in motorsport has been as in depth as ever with his current studies in Motorsport Engineering at Oxford Brookes University providing exciting opportunities as of late. In May 2012 James completed his 2nd year of study, at which point it is seen beneficial to explore opportunities in relation to completing a ‘placement year’ outside of the university. This year in industry is highly regarded by employers as it shows the student has been exposed to top level, high intensity work. It should therefore make them more desirable to prospective employers than those who have not had this experience.
Knowing that this year in industry would be a significant boost to future employment hopes, James went through the standard process of handing CVs out and gained an interview with world leading transmission company Xtrac. This interview consisted of a factory tour and intense written examination between 25 potential candidates and after coming out feeling confident in his efforts, he was rewarded by being invited back for a final interview stage. A formal interview followed with both non-technical and technical sections, and again he felt he showed his engineering knowledge to a good standard. A few weeks later he was thrilled to learn that he had secured a place with the company, who are heavily involved in Formula 1 as well as working on LMP prototypes and Indycar to name but a few.
A year later and James has recently finished his placement Xtrac having had a high level of involvement in various projects within the company. He explains:
“My job title was ‘Trainee Design Engineer’ which meant I was located in the Design Office of the building, using high end 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs to design components for the transmissions themselves. This required a huge amount of learning because although I had been exposed to CAD at university, it had been very limited and nowhere near to the standard that the guys at Xtrac are used to. They understand this completely and immediately send you on a week’s CAD training to get you up to scratch. Once this was completed I was thrown into designing components themselves, which was really rewarding knowing that my work was actually benefitting real projects.”
He says that the experience has been invaluable and couldn’t have imagined coming out of university without the same experience.
“I was embedded in the Rally team and my main focus was on the Volkswagen WRC project that we were involved in. To work with such a highly regarded manufacturer as VW really pushed me to get things right but to know that parts I had designed were out there dominating the WRC championship is a pretty awesome feeling! The things I learned, from working to tight time constraints to ensuring work was of perfect standard has been hard but will no doubt stand me in good stead for the future.”
James now enters the 3rd year of his course, which will complete his BEng Motorsport Engineering qualification, however he will then continue on for a 4th year of study to gain his masters degree.
“It’s a long road being a 5 year course (including the placement year) but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end. I have learned so much and hopefully at the end of it all I can push forward to gain a role in the upper echelons of the motorsport world. The masters degree is becoming more of a necessity these days rather than a luxury, and so I hope I can push on to gain the first class grade I want.”
James is available to contact for any queries relating to both racing and engineering, and is a qualified ARDS recognised racing instructor as well as being proficient on NX7.5 CAD systems. Any queries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or via mobile on 07588589125.