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UK Engineers, what makes them more successful than engineers from other regions?


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#1 AngelaTifosi

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:15

To cite ferrari's struggle as lack of talent within their native engineers group, what is the single things that make all the differences where UK comes up on top??



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#2 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:36

There's a lot of factors in something like this.

 

For example the UK used to have a world leading aerospace industry, known for innovation and good product. That left a legacy of many universities teaching mechanical and aerospace engineering, and a lot of engineers having to move into other things when the industry collapsed during the 2nd half of the 20th century.

 

The UK also had an exceptionally strong motor racing scene in the immediate post-WWII years, and that kind of thing leaves a legacy of good motor racing engineers and an on going environment for developing talent and experience.

 

Of course today most teams are British or based in Britain. That encourages prospective engineers to study in the UK, and I'm sure it encourages a lot of young Brits to get into engineering.

 

I don't think you can single out any dominant reason.



#3 sabjit

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:44

Theres just simply a lot of them in the UK. There are many scholarships and funds which makes it attractive to people going to university in the UK to do Engineering. If you get more engineers its likely you'll get the better ones too.



#4 maverick69

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:45

Yeah. It's kinda a combo of things as mentioned above.

 

What I would say is that we are very, very good (the best?) at engineering consultancy, prototyping and low volume....... but historically terrible at mass production (unless said production is being run by a foreign entity)....... which is a baffling shame.



#5 ensign14

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:51

Same reason why Britain is good at rowing - it's visible and people aspire to it.  Whereas Britain is rubbish at baseball - it isn't and they don't.

 

The more interesting point is why Britain became dominant in motor racing.  It's mostly down to the Nazis and health & safety.  Without WW2 there wouldn't have been a bunch of ready-made circuits post-war; without health & safety it would have remained easy for the Continent to shut a bunch of streets with tape and let people race there and then.



#6 AngelaTifosi

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 13:11

some history lesson here, nice read  :blush:



#7 tifosiMac

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 13:35

Engineering is pushed through schools, at least is was with mine. Our technology department was funded by Prodrive and we had associations with Arrow's and Williams. I did a project called Formula 3000 for schools back in 1997 and managed to get work experience with Reynard, Prodrive and at Arrow's as a result. I didn't quite have what it takes to be an engineer in F1 but a few of my friends work in various capacities within Mercedes, Williams and Red Bull now off the back of being spotted in their teens. Engineering seems to be one thing Britain does well especially in the motorsport sector and its good it is pushed and graduates still aspire to work within the industry. 



#8 wonk123

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 13:40

Maybe it should be F1 engineers? Really it's a bit like asking why Charlotte has the best NASCAR engineers, or why Melbourne produces the best AFL footballers. But at least it will give some people the opportunity to crow about why England is the best  :rotfl:



#9 sopa

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 13:54

WW2 is certainly an interesting turning point in long-term tendencies, because before that Germans and to a lesser extent Italians and French were dominant in Grand Prix racing, both among drivers and cars. The result of WW2 and the development of UK aerospace industry certainly played a major role in turning the tables.



#10 tifosiMac

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 13:56

Maybe it should be F1 engineers? Really it's a bit like asking why Charlotte has the best NASCAR engineers, or why Melbourne produces the best AFL footballers. But at least it will give some people the opportunity to crow about why England is the best  :rotfl:

I don't think any body is 'crowing about England being the best' and the discussion so far has been informative and attempting to explain an answer to an interesting question. I think you may have jumped the gun with your own prejudices there mate. 



#11 helioseism

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:06

Maybe it should be F1 engineers? Really it's a bit like asking why Charlotte has the best NASCAR engineers, or why Melbourne produces the best AFL footballers. But at least it will give some people the opportunity to crow about why England is the best  :rotfl:

 

 

I don't think any body is 'crowing about England being the best' and the discussion so far has been informative and attempting to explain an answer to an interesting question. I think you may have jumped the gun with your own prejudices there mate. 

 

But wonk123 is right in that it is F1 engineers that are being discussed.



#12 tifosiMac

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:08

But wonk123 is right in that it is F1 engineers that are being discussed.

Well if the thread title say 'UK Engineers' it will likely attract a discussion about Engineers from the UK. It opens up the discussion for engineers from other regions but I don't see why we can't discuss what is proposed in the OP.  :confused:



#13 wonk123

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:08

You want prejudice, then maybe you should have a read of any thread that mentions Haas F1, and how they can't possibly build a decent car as they are not in Motorsport Valley.

 

Umm UK is also good at Darts and soccer hooliganism. They were number 1 in cricket for a few months as well, but not any more  :wave:



#14 HoldenRT

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:09

This might seem off topic but it's following the context of one of the posts above.  Does England even have a basketball team?  Basketball is a global sport like soccer is.  Not to the same extent but similar and I don't even know if there's ever been a player from there make it to the NBA.

 

Motor racing on the other hand.. England seems to be the home, not just of F1 but a lot of other series as well.  Maybe the short answer is that it's a cultural thing?  The historical aspect is interesting, WW2 certainly changed the world in many ways.



#15 wonk123

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:10

Oh and by the way, the UK does have the best F1 engineers 



#16 tifosiMac

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:11

Reynard in Brackley used to produce the chassis for Indy Car a few years ago until they went bust lol.  



#17 tifosiMac

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:14

You want prejudice, then maybe you should have a read of any thread that mentions Haas F1, and how they can't possibly build a decent car as they are not in Motorsport Valley.

 

Umm UK is also good at Darts and soccer hooliganism. They were number 1 in cricket for a few months as well, but not any more  :wave:

Well thanks for that, I didn't expect so many generalisations in response I have to say! Are we back in the 1980's with the hooliganism remark, really?

 

Oh and by the way, the UK does have the best F1 engineers 

Fair enough, that one sentence has convinced everybody here I am sure :)



#18 HoldenRT

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:15

If you watched Eurotrip with Vinnie Jones, it's easy to get that impression..



#19 maverick69

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:17

If you watched Eurotrip with Vinnie Jones, it's easy to get that impression..

Vinnie Jones is an oxygen thief.



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#20 jcpower13

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:28

This might seem off topic but it's following the context of one of the posts above.  Does England even have a basketball team?  Basketball is a global sport like soccer is.  Not to the same extent but similar and I don't even know if there's ever been a player from there make it to the NBA.

 

Motor racing on the other hand.. England seems to be the home, not just of F1 but a lot of other series as well.  Maybe the short answer is that it's a cultural thing?  The historical aspect is interesting, WW2 certainly changed the world in many ways.

There's been 11 British NBA players, 10 of them are English or listed under English. http://en.wikipedia....ign_NBA_players



#21 wonk123

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:32

Well thanks for that, I didn't expect so many generalisations in response I have to say! Are we back in the 1980's with the hooliganism remark, really?

 

Fair enough, that one sentence has convinced everybody here I am sure :)

Don't take it too seriously, it was a  bit of a pi$$take

 

My original point remains, it is a very small regional industry, the OP asked about engineers in general.

Who has the best aerospace engineers?



#22 seahawk

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:45

It really is simple. There are more job openings for engineers in the UK than in the rest of Europe when it comes to motorsport, while fewer in the car industry.



#23 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 14:57

It seems to have appealed to the Formula E guys too:

 

Series chief Alejandro Agag said: "In September 2013 we launched this incredible fully-electric 150mph car and after more than 3000km of rigorous testing we're delighted to be now handing them over to our 10 teams.

"To change the perception of electric cars we need to improve the technology. The UK is the best place to do that.

"There is no better place for motorsport than the UK, and for us there is no better place in the UK than Donington."

 

From http://www.autosport...t.php/id/113968



#24 ensign14

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 15:06

WW2 is certainly an interesting turning point in long-term tendencies, because before that Germans and to a lesser extent Italians and French were dominant in Grand Prix racing, both among drivers and cars. The result of WW2 and the development of UK aerospace industry certainly played a major role in turning the tables.

 

It was more the number of impromptu airfields knocked up to house The Few, and their consequent adoption as motor racing circuits thereafter.  Silverstone being the obvious one, but there are literal dozens of others.  There was more motor racing in Britain in the fifties than Europe might have had for the previous half-century.

 

With the big advantage that if Johnny Hotshoe or Promising Designer fell off on lap one, they'd have acres in which to spin to a halt and drive home.  Whereas Jeannot Sabotchaud did the same at Albi or Pau they'd be scraping him off for weeks.



#25 chunder27

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 15:17

We do ahve the best engineers for this kind of thing.

 

We held the last two Land Speed Records and are likely to break the next one.

 

Not much engineering betters that in my opinion.

 

We revolutionised Indy racing when it was populated by front engined tugboats.

 

we also did the same in sports cars and if we had any manufacturers left probably still would, even if a lot of the big teams use UK tech to design and build their Audis and Toyotas.

 

One thing I would love is for a UK team to try and take on NASCAR, I am sure we could do it.

 

And that would make me rather happy!!  Imgine a big Union Jack liveried I dunno Mondeo or Insignia putting Busch up the wall!!  and beating Jr, Smoke and Johnson, that might make the worlds dullsest race series more itneresting in the UK!



#26 Petroltorque

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 15:27

The opening post is misleading. British Universities may have a good reputation but how many offer degrees with chartered status? I have found living in the UK that the term engineer is used very loosely to encompass anyone working with their hands. I would say the other European nations produce engineers of very high standards particularly in Germany where the Her Doctor Engineer is a very respected individual in addition Germany still maintains a strong engineering base that offers numerous apprenticeships in the field. The statistics in the UK show that industry faces a shortfall in qualified engineers of 5000 every year. Having said all that the UK did produce the greatest engineer to walk the planet in George Stephenson.

#27 Richard T

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 15:56

"Soul and passion" has a factor of 1 in the British SI-system, and therefore has no affect in complex engineering situations. Whereas in Maranello it's a quadrant!

#28 Jimisgod

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 15:58

The Queen, tea, Spitfires and scones.

Obviously because MI5 invests heavily in spy cars and the secret service engineers need something to do in their spare time.

#29 sheepgobba

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:02

Surprised no one mentioned the fuel of any good engineer is a cup of British tea  :p



#30 krea

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:23

I guess we're only talking about F1 and not other racing series?

Le Mans is dominated by German cars and the MotoGP is dominated by Japanese companies.

 

There are many British teams, drivers and engineers because F1 is pretty much a British invention, so you have a large British tradition and network in this field. Otherwise is British engineering, outside of a few companies and niches, far away from being stunning.


Edited by krea, 15 May 2014 - 16:24.


#31 ensign14

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:26

Britain doesn't bother with the bikes because the British can generally afford cars.



#32 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:28

Because the other ones are Italians and Swiss? 



#33 E.B.

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:34

Reynard in Brackley used to produce the chassis for Indy Car a few years ago until they went bust lol.


The advantage that budding UK engineers have in comparison to their US counterparts is that UK universities offer math in plural, often for no extra charge.

#34 krea

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:56

Britain doesn't bother with the bikes because the British can generally afford cars.

 

I'm not even sure what you're trying to say here.

 

But I guess Speedway isn't a thing in the UK.



#35 Tsarwash

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 17:17

Having said all that the UK did produce the greatest engineer to walk the planet in George Stephenson.

Think that Brunel might have had something to say about that.

#36 Imateria

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 17:52

As ensign14 has been saying, WW2 is almost certainly the biggest contributor. Whilst the end of the war left us with a plethora of airfields to use as make shift circuits, there was also a lot of people that had been involved with the design, production and maintenance of our war planes, tanks, ships and various other mechanical constructs that wanted an outlet for their talents and motorsport was a good fit for this, helped by the fact that the sport was no longer so heavily manufacture driven as it was pre-war allowing the weekend warriors to battle it out among themselves. The cream rose to the top, took on the Europeans and won, then dominated. The big question for me is why Europe didn't put up more of a fight. OK, Germany was a wreck following the war and I suppose France also had more to worry about with the rebuild following the occupation, but certainly Italy could very much have taken on the mantle and was looking strong early in the 50's, but what went wrong?

 

Whatever happened, by the end of the 50's/early 60's British teams had come to the fore with innovative and well run teams at all levels and disciplines meaning that any kid with any interest in motorsport had quite a choice of teams to join as a weekend warrior and get a hands on schooling in motorsport, which has perpetuated the UK's stance at the top of the motorsport tree.     



#37 jjcale

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 17:52

Yeah. It's kinda a combo of things as mentioned above.

 

What I would say is that we are very, very good (the best?) at engineering consultancy, prototyping and low volume....... but historically terrible at mass production (unless said production is being run by a foreign entity)....... which is a baffling shame.

 

Its not the British engineers that are the problem.... its the British managers.

 

Agree with pretty much everyone re why the UK has the best F1 engineers...



#38 jjcale

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 17:57

It was more the number of impromptu airfields knocked up to house The Few, and their consequent adoption as motor racing circuits thereafter.  Silverstone being the obvious one, but there are literal dozens of others.  There was more motor racing in Britain in the fifties than Europe might have had for the previous half-century.

 

With the big advantage that if Johnny Hotshoe or Promising Designer fell off on lap one, they'd have acres in which to spin to a halt and drive home.  Whereas Jeannot Sabotchaud did the same at Albi or Pau they'd be scraping him off for weeks.

 

So... UK is tops in formula one because its Airstrip One? ....Interesting theory. 



#39 study

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:03

I guess we're only talking about F1 and not other racing series?
Le Mans is dominated by German cars and the MotoGP is dominated by Japanese companies.
 .



Be interested to know how many of those Le Mans cars are using British designer and also parts.

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#40 BRG

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:13

Be interested to know how many of those Le Mans cars are using British designer and also parts.

The first few Audi Le Mans cars, and the related Bentley cars, were all built in Norfolk.  But once they got the idea, Audi moved it the whole shebang to Ingolstadt.  

 

Which is kind of the British problem.  We are good at inventing things and developing things but then someone else picks it up and runs with it and we are left wondering how we let them get away with it.



#41 f1RacingForever

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:31

The same reason Brazil has so many successful football players and Dominican republic produces exceptional baseball players. When you are heavily focused on something you are going to excel at it more than others. It's just a cultural thing.



#42 Fonzey

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:39

There's a lot of "grassroots" motorsport in the UK, and along with that comes the engineering too. The industrial estates near where I grew up are littered with small dimly lit units which every year or so will pump out an incredible piece of engineering.

 

I certainly think that mechanical engineering is a large part of the UK education and simply through raw quantity - we end up churning out an F1 class of superstar every now and then.

 

Nothing about being "British" gives you an inherent racial ability to become a supreme engineer, but if you're a racing team looking for talent - the odds are in your favour if you setup in the UK. IMO.



#43 KingTiger

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:45

It's the F1 infrastructure that's already setup which allows English F1 teams to profit. 

 

Otherwise I don't see any evidence how English engineers as a whole are any better than Germans, Americans or any of other major country. 



#44 pdac

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:47

Meccano legacy



#45 chunder27

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:58

the Japanese might build the bikes, but most of the technicians are European



#46 turssi

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 19:17

UK cricket players, what makes them special?

Edit: Should have put down commonwealth instead of UK.

Edited by turssi, 15 May 2014 - 19:22.


#47 F12GT

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 19:19

Couple of reasons I think... The UK's always been a land of tinkerers and back-yard inventors, not sure if that's something left over from the make-do-and-mend culture in the war but I suspect it was there before that too.

 

But the other one is that in the UK, the title "engineer" has been corrupted to mean anything - it's not protected like doctor or architect for some reason, the guy who comes to fix your washing machine is an engineer... and so is Adrian Newey. So it's not an inherently respected job title - the really good engineers gravitate towards the sexy F1 type jobs to get recognition whereas in Germany or the US where an engineer is respected, any job will give that recognition.

Along with that, it's got at least 3 of the top 10 universities in the world kicking out world-class engineers (there are a load of very average ones too btw). The other top universities are mostly in the US - but it's hard to get a work permit to work in the UK. So... the top engineering graduates want to work in F1. F1 wants the best engineering graduates in can easily employ. Both are located in the UK.

 

Simples.


Edited by F12GT, 15 May 2014 - 19:25.


#48 NotAPineapple

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 19:22

Well I assume you mean motorsport engineers, because with all of the different types of engineering its practically impossible to catagorically say one region is better than an other at engineering in general...

 

If you can find the documentary "secret life of formula 1" (I think that was the one) it is explained very well how the UK came to be the centre of the motorsport world.

 

Basically, before the war Germany was the boss. Winning everything in grand prix racing at the time and also land speed record cars. Hitler was apparently a bit of a rev-head and pumped a lot of money into German grand prix racing. After the war, the UK basically stole everything the germans had developed. The UK government actually commissioned an investigation into the German motor racing industry which produced the imaginatively titled report "Investigation Into the Development of German Grand Prix Racing Cars Between 1934 and 1939 (including a Description of the Mercedes World's Land Speed Record Contender)". They took drawings, interviewed engineers and brought it all to the UK and built on it. That report is easy to get a hold of on ebay or amazon nowadays.

 

While germany was busy putting its infrastructure back together, the UK motorsport industry grew out of this new found knowledge and after some time acheived some success in grand prix/formula 1 racing which then grew an industry and culture around it.

 

Though I have to admit, the english way of engineering things seems to be well suited to motorsport. They're style of going about things is in the middle of the German way (too much analysis) and the Italian way (not enough analysis). I think a large reason for the success of Mercedes GP now is German management and english ground work.



#49 Petroltorque

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 19:36

Brunel was an outstanding Civil engineer but was a poor mechanical engineer, he hired Stephenson's protégé to design his trains. Stephenson was an exemplar as Both a Civil and a mechanical engineer. I think people become to parochial when looking for examples. The US have some of the best engineers without a doubt, look at the stuff coming out of Silicon valley. Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works and JPL are excellent examples. The French aren't too shabby either Aerospatiale, Snecma, Dassault are quality firms.

#50 maverick69

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 19:40

Its not the British engineers that are the problem.... its the British managers.

 

Agree with pretty much everyone re why the UK has the best F1 engineers...

 

True. Although I'd be attempted to change "managers" for "accountants".