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MSc in motorsports (or more general)


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#1 Greg Locock

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:12

I accidentally wandered into (or perhaps created) a bit of bitch fight over the cranfield motorsports MSc, and by extension others at linkedIn . While I appreciate that any number of brownie badges is no bad thing for the applicant, I was wondering what the Real People in motorsports actually thought about these programs?



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#2 hogits2

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:22

I accidentally wandered into (or perhaps created) a bit of bitch fight over the cranfield motorsports MSc, and by extension others at linkedIn . While I appreciate that any number of brownie badges is no bad thing for the applicant, I was wondering what the Real People in motorsports actually thought about these programs?

Are they like the Village People?

#3 chunky

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 13:26

Michael Schumacher is joining the Village People?

#4 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 14:39

Thought he already was?


What do you get with a 'motorsport degree'? Since racing engineering is just a subset of normal engineering, wouldn't you be better off with a wider foundation?

#5 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 23:43

Thought he already was?


What do you get with a 'motorsport degree'? Since racing engineering is just a subset of normal engineering, wouldn't you be better off with a wider foundation?

In theory yes. But motorsport often denies logic and accepted practices so generally the most gifted people are not engineeers at all but often self taught.
Sometimes the qualified people are the ones that get it wrong.

#6 Canuck

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 23:57

I worked with a PhD who commented to me that "with your background you could do almost anything". I found such a comment surprising as I'd long envied anyone who'd managed a PhD in their chosen field. I found my lack of formal education a barrier to entry while he found his PhD a pair of shackles that provided him a very narrow set of options.

My discussions with people working in motorsports, in particular F1, suggest that proven ability is far better than a degree when it comes to getting in the door except perhaps in aero (but I may have misunderstood too).

#7 NeilR

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:55

The two F1 aero guys I know are both Phd background, Malcolm Oastler had a particular interest in aero and had no Phd, but did have a good education and grounding prior to his reynard work.

#8 MatsNorway

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:48

Whats your education Canuck?

Edited by MatsNorway, 06 April 2012 - 07:49.


#9 hogits2

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:33

Presumably the course is tailored towards the needs of the likely employers. Are the graduates being snapped up by the trade? Or is it bums-on-seats for Cranfield?

#10 Canuck

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 16:08

Whats your education Canuck?

You mean apart from graduating from a typical high school?
-Licensed motorcycle mechanic
-School of Hard Knocks
The statement "my lack of formal education" about says it all. What it doesn't say is that, once I got my foot in the door, my lack of degree hasn't held my career back. It's kept me from pursuing my first choice (design) as the economics of not having a degree mean I get paid more to oversee teams of skilled people than to develop new products. I worked as a designer for a multinational Corp and would have stayed on that path but for a large-scale "restructuring" 2 years ago that we are still suffering the hangover from. I was unable to continue within that vein as my compensation was an anomaly thanks to a bizarre set of circumstances. I was not able to secure another combination of similar position and wage.

If I wasn't a father of three in a (by design) single-income household and I somehow managed to amass same experience I have today, I might well jump on a plane to Woking and pound on doors until I wedged myself through one. Unfortunately, the economic reality of maintaining my family unit precludes such a course of action short of a small lottery windfall or my wife being offered an economically-viable position in the UK.

-



#11 Cranclive

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 19:20

I accidentally wandered into (or perhaps created) a bit of bitch fight over the cranfield motorsports MSc, and by extension others at linkedIn . While I appreciate that any number of brownie badges is no bad thing for the applicant, I was wondering what the Real People in motorsports actually thought about these programs?


Craig

You haven't created a 'bitch fight'. You are more than welcome to contact Alex Burns, CEO of Williams F1, who chairs the advisory panel at Cranfield and ask him his opinion. As for other comments here about bums on seats that is not the rationale. We work very closely with motorsport, both in terms of research and testing, but critically in developing engineers. Only yesterday I was working with 3 F1 teams regarding positions for students that they have offered to Cranfield MSc students. We are now in the process of candidate selection for a number of posts. We are also finalising thesis projects. All of which suggests what we do is highly regarded by 'Real People'.

If we were only in it for the money I would not put my heart and soul into what I truly believe in...my students and our programme. I am now off to the pub with the boss of a major team in international motorsport and his wife who works for an F1 team. She happens to be one of my former students.

#12 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 21:09

Well THAT was a helpful post.

#13 Tony Matthews

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 21:31

Is Greg 'Craig' or is Cranclive 'Craig'? I think we should be told...

#14 Bloggsworth

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 15:12

It's not the qualifications, it's the people wot use them; some people can pass exams, some can pass exams and do something with that knowledge; I have met both - I doubt Alan Sugar has 2 exams to rub together and he is very successful, Clive Sinclair has more brains than you can shake a stick at.... need I say more. Robin Herd, a highly qualified aerospace man, produced the March 701 with stub wings on its flanks and failed not only to see that they would do nothing, but failed to see the potential if he had just stuck boards on each side to prevent the air from the top tumbling over the pods and going underneath, thus destroying any negative lift he might have thought he had acquired - More remarkably, it took another 6 or 7 years before anyone else* saw it.





*Whether you believe it or not, I spotted it immediately, thought it so obvious, that I forgot all about it!

Edited by Bloggsworth, 07 April 2012 - 19:38.


#15 Tony Matthews

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 15:18

*Whether you believe it or not, I spotted it immediately, thought it so obvious, that I forgot all about it!

So did I!

#16 Lukin

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 12:00

I've been browsing some of the programs and remembered this thread. I don't have much to add but am half considering it myself. From reading the programs, I have to say that if I did the MSC after finishing uni I would have been hopeless. You are so very green coming out of uni.

I'd be coming from a different angle. Having worked full time for over 6 years in motorsport there are things I wish I'd learnt at uni and areas of vehicle dynamics I have never had a chance to do in depth learning or application. I'd consider the MSC the equivalent of Optimum G on steriods; supplementing university work and practical work. In particular 7 post and vibration theory and application, aerodyanmics and application of vehicle dynamics.

I'm aware of Oxford Brookes and Canfield. What other programs are there in the UK?

Thoughts?

#17 PhilG

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 23:23

I have worked with some very clever people, when asking advice from the guy who was chief designer where i was he recomended a proper Mech Eng degree as opposed to a Motorsports one because its much broader based ... there is more to motorsport than the cars.. tooling and the like takes alot of work , and those types of guys tend to get a better grounding out in the real world.

What is a common thing running through this is that a good degree is no replacement for knowing what you are doing, the difficulty being these days is that the 'old school' types are getting long in the tooth , the days of the 70's and 80's where teams were more practically based are long gone, so the guys doing the hiring and firing these days came through the degree route and expect the same from the next generation.

What is obvious is that there are now a massive amount of courses for Motorsport Degrees , producing far more people than there are jobs for... on the flip side , manufacturing engineers are thin on the ground and getting thinner..... the last place i worked would have a mountain of people apply for any design job, irrespective how the pay was, yet any manufacturing/production engineering job struggled to get decent applicants , and those that were decent were on a lot of money.

I think the balance has been tipped back to guys who make it happen , rather than those that think it up, opportunity wise.

I wont go into the whole 'designing stuff you cant make ' issue at this point..

#18 Greg Locock

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 01:36

It depends on where you want to go in the future, but like Phil I can't help feeling you might get relatively little out of it. You already know the practical side, I'd have thought a specialisation in a proper discipline was likely to be more use.

Anyway, motorsports in particular

Brunel
Cranfield
O-B

Automotive

bradford
bath
glasgow
herts
huddersfield
leeds

Also you might think about composites or aero if you want to go into design and get some weekends off. I am a bit leary of MSc Automotive, having inadvertently helped prepare and review some of the NVH course material for a local uni. Yes, it would probably help you get a job if you are a pimple-face, but it isn't /very/ technical, certainly our technically minded mechanics would be way ahead of both the theoretical and practical content I saw. In fact I'm a bit leary of higher degrees for mechanical engineers in general, a cynicism widely shared among employers (starting pay rates for engineers with advanced degrees were less than for those with just a bachelors for many years, now they are about even).


#19 PhilG

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 07:16

My son is doing an Aerospace Apprenticeship At Rolls Royce, i was hoping he would take a path through 6th form, and on if he could hack it to get a Mech eng Degree, but on attending the open days and talking to the recruitment guys , they were altering their approach and taking on apprentices , not all fresh out of school, some as old as 20 , and putting them through a job specific training program that allowed the cream to shine , and go on a sponsored route to a degree.. their experience was that the needs of the business dictated that people skilled and trained in the specifics of their business were more valuable to them , so a guy aged 24, will have been in the company as long as 8 years , all of it relevant , rather than arriving with a degree and knowing nothing (his words, not mine) ..... this bears out my earlier statement that manufacturing people are at a premium over designers , but a designer from a manufacturing background has a massive advantage over one fresh out of University... Like you Greg , i am amazed at the level of the work that is done.

I think that the ability to use the design software now is taken in precedent over actually knowing what you need to do to actually design that works.. and doesnt cost the earth.

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#20 MatsNorway

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 13:52

So the ability to understand what the machine park on your site can do as well as practical thinking is more important than lots of knowledge about the design software?



#21 Wolf

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 22:39

So the ability to understand what the machine park on your site can do as well as practical thinking is more important than lots of knowledge about the design software?


Mats, the design software is only a tool- a very nice tool, but in the end only the icing on the cake... I'd happily trade some of my software expertise for a bit more knowledge of 'design for manufacture' and 'design for assembly' (actually, I'm looking for recommendations for good books on the subject*). :lol:

* back in my day in Uni we had a handbook on the subject (probably not too much younger than myself), which was quite useful, but a bit dated and a bit sketchy in some areas- but I loaned my copy and never got it back...

And speaking of design skills, I was sitting with my friend earlier today and discussing myriad of things over few cups of grog, when he told me about this... It makes my head hurt just to think of the effort that went into something like that (not only function, but there is distinctive 'feel' characteristic of such contraptions).

#22 MatsNorway

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 14:41

Mats, the design software is only a tool- a very nice tool, but in the end only the icing on the cake... I'd happily trade some of my software expertise for a bit more knowledge of 'design for manufacture' and 'design for assembly' (actually, I'm looking for recommendations for good books on the subject)


I recommend using lots of time talking to the operators of lathes and mills and so on.

My big blank area is thin plate constructions.

#23 Lukin

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 16:11

It depends on where you want to go in the future, but like Phil I can't help feeling you might get relatively little out of it. You already know the practical side, I'd have thought a specialisation in a proper discipline was likely to be more use.


That's probably a reasonable point about specialisation; design has never interested me etc. I think a fresh look at some theory now I have some idea about how you can really apply them would be good. Dave Williams needs to do courses in 7 post theory and application! The O-B Motorsport Chassis Dynamics course (done by corrospondence) looks like it covers a reasonable spectrum.

#24 GSpeedR

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 19:25

That's probably a reasonable point about specialisation; design has never interested me etc. I think a fresh look at some theory now I have some idea about how you can really apply them would be good. Dave Williams needs to do courses in 7 post theory and application! The O-B Motorsport Chassis Dynamics course (done by corrospondence) looks like it covers a reasonable spectrum.


If you've spent many years as an engineer in motorsport, you should have a good handle relating theory to your application. Now it's time for new theory.

Plus, should you have a change of heart (or your team have a change of finances), a proper engineering masters will serve you much better in a new industry.

#25 Cranclive

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 17:44

If you've spent many years as an engineer in motorsport, you should have a good handle relating theory to your application. Now it's time for new theory.

Plus, should you have a change of heart (or your team have a change of finances), a proper engineering masters will serve you much better in a new industry.


Good point. Some of the former students at Cranfield have decided to move from motorsport to other sectors such as energy after a number of years in employment. The combination of first degree (usually mechanical engineering but sometimes physics/applied maths), their Masters from the UK's only solely postgraduate institution and their experience obtained along the way has helped them make the transisition. One of our former students who joined an F1 team back in 2001 as a design engineer is now moving to JLR because he feels he has got enough out of F1 and now wants to transfer his expertise to the automotive sector with a company that is investing significantly in R&D, facilities and critically people.

I agree too that designers should engage with the production team. It is important to understand the machining of components. Dave Benbow when he was at Prodrive made this point to our students that the best designers were those who made their way to the machine shop floor and spoke to the people there. We often forget communication is a two way process and requires listening as well as talking.

#26 Canuck

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 19:19

As a life-long gearhead, I first chose the route of professional mechanic, getting my journeyman's ticket along the way. Hand's-on experience. I moved from there to machining, culminating in the responsibility for a 9-axis machine. Eventually that led to managing the entire manufacturing floor before taking a roll on the engineering team as a mechanical designer. It was there that I experienced how little engineers understood about actually making and/or building their designs, the "fresher" the engineer of course the less they grasped about the post-3d modelling use of their designs. My biggest contribution to the team revolved around assessing designs for manufacturing and assembly. I'm a firm believer that mechanical engineers ought to spend serious time (as opposed to a few weeks) on a proper manufacturing floor, learning how things are created from their designs and the issues that arise when trying to put them together.

It was during my stint with the engineers that our resident Physics PhD remarked "with your background, you could go do anything", which was a real eye-opener for me. He lamented the very narrow career scope allowed by his PhD, something that, until then I'd always envied (the doctorate, not the narrow scope).

With respect to working in F1, the verbatim response regarding entry-level qualifications I received from the Head of Performance Development Group for one of the teams:
I have seen both (Masters and PhD) employed but sadly this world seems to be more and more addicted to the accreditations attached to the name. I think if you have the talent, enthusiasm and time then you can do it with any or maybe no degree. The degree only gets you noticed, it is the talent and enthusiasm that carries you forward. It depends on the teams position on the day what it takes. That all came with the qualifier that you'd expect anywhere there's a plethora of applicants and few positions: low wages, long hours. They felt Aero was the best ticket in (at this point in time) with Imperial and maybe Southampton.

#27 mariner

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 00:15

Like Tony Matthews I live just north of London. The local buses have a new ad on the back from the nearby University of Hertfordshire.

It claims that every UK F1 team has a graduate from U. of Herts on the staff . I assume thats true so a good claim from U. of Herts to make to engineering studant applicants.

The University is at Hatfield , once home of the De havilland plane company who did the Mosquito and the Comet. Frank Costin and one or two others who contribute to the Lotus story worked there.

The university was once De Havilland College and had aircraft courses as a speciality so motorsports has some logic for it.

#28 Greg Locock

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 06:17

The university was once De Havilland College and had aircraft courses as a speciality so motorsports has some logic for it.

That'd be 'Atfield Poly and it has educated several fine engineers in my personal experience.

#29 Tony Matthews

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 16:43

As far as I know, the University of Hertfordshire is an umbrella title for several separate colleges, including Hitchin CoFE. Or whatever it calls itself. All I know is that it used to provide evening classes in interesting stuff like welding, car maintenance and woodwork, but now it seems to be much more important subjects like aromatherapy, manicure and hairdressing.