It’s no secret that the motorsport industry is fiercely competitive, with thousands of talented graduates and aspiring engineers searching for their dream jobs in professional racing every year. In a competitive and globalised jobs market, it is vitally important for graduates in the motorsport engineering field to display practical experience - which can be obtained through participation in the global Formula Student program. The competition, run in the UK and across Europe, North America and Australia, provides the perfect training ground for the engineers, mechanics and designers of the future. Each year, every Formula Student team designs, builds and competes with an open-wheel racing car devised entirely by university students. Backed by motorsport icon Ross Brawn, the competition gives students a unique insight into the world of motorsport, as well as the opportunity to compete at some of racing’s most iconic venues, such as Silverstone, Hockenheim and Austria’s Red Bull Ring inSpielberg.
With a graduate working in every F1 team, no Formula Student competitor knows this better than Oxford Brookes Racing. The UK’s most successful FS outfit, with seven top UK team awards, OBR have consistently produced competitive cars since its inception in 1999. Students who partake in placement years, often with some of the UK’s most prestigious racing teams, manufacturers or suppliers, can then ensure that skills picked up whilst away from university study and Formula Student can be applied to elevate the team further upon their return. “In interviews for industry placements, recruiters are generally more interested in my role with OBR and practical experience within Formula Student than coursework or institution” notes Statics Lead Tessa Waldron. “This practical experience gives me a launchpad from which I can build a range of industry contacts, increasing my chances of obtaining a job in professional motorsport”.
Formula Student is committed to encouraging and promoting students looking to enter the field of motorsport by providing crucial experience at the grassroots level, offering an elevated passage into professional motorsport careers by providing the most critical asset for up-and-coming engineers, designers and mechanics: hands-on experience within a fully functioning motorsports team. FS alumni have repeatedly praised the experience gathered during their time in Formula Student, highlighting both the effectiveness of Formula Student as a springboard into motorsport and the importance of developing baseline skills in aspiring employees. Due to the nature of the competition, all facets of professional motorsports teams, and the skills associated with them, can be leaned in Formula Student — from engineering and building intricate car elements to design and business, FS teams operate just like their professional counterparts, giving students a wide variety of opportunities to learn as well as promoting interdisciplinary flexibility and a wider sense of teamwork.
The whole process allows Formula Student members to be exposed to all aspects of manufacturing, from the initial design goals and aspirations outlined in the Engineering Design Report, to the final manufacture and assembly of a part, all while accounting for external factors such as budgeting or potential supplier issues and finding the necessary workarounds. An integral part of the process is developing the transferable skills throughout the process of building the car, for example having to exercise effective communication between sections, in order to have an achievable planning schedule and to know what aspects of the team are to be prioritised and require additional resources and when. Without a doubt one of the best aspects of Formula Student is the ability to not only hone in on a specific area of expertise, but to experience and build knowledge around areas that you as a member may not have had the opportunity to learn before. All of this helps to build versatile graduates that are able to excel in a high-performance team.
The goals of Formula Student have been realised over the past two decades with OBR graduates taking up positions at each of the current 10 Formula 1 teams and other highly competitive disciplines, such as with Hyundai in the World Rally Championships (WRC). Some alumni have even made their way over to the world of motorcycle championships, such as MotoGP. OBR strives to uphold the core principles of Formula Student by providing our team members with as much information and experience as possible. In light of this goal, the OBR Learning initiative was founded in 2020 as a way of granting the team access to industry professionals, as well as to converse with alumni and highlight their experiences in Formula Student, in particular during times of COVID-19 restrictions. This helps motorsport professionals share the experience and advice critical to Formula Student competitors’ progression into elite level motorsport, at times where in-person interactions have to be limited. By conversing with previous alumni, it also allows team members to expand their network of contacts within the motorsport industry; as an ever-growing number of graduates gives us a wide array of connections who can recount their experiences and pass on up-to-date advice to the team from the frontline of the industry.
While first hand, grassroots experience is important for any aspiring student, the world of motorsport is perhaps one of the most daunting for new employees. A particularly fast paced industry, on and off the track, professional motorsports team members are heavily reliant not just on their own personal skills but also on their experience in a highly unique field — experience that simply cannot be taught in the classroom. This is where Formula Student plays the greatest role in the success of its participants. Technical knowledge and understanding of concepts, without any relevant experience or application to back it up, can only take you so far in this industry. It is this critical experience that Formula Student endeavours to provide a platform for its participants, the engineers of the future. It grants them a vital insight into the industry before they step into it full-time, allowing them to grow, learn and mature as individuals so they can put their best foot forward and make their mark on motorsport.
So where do I start?
As part of Accu's partnership with OBR there is an opportunity to gain valuable experience spending 2 days onsite at Oxford Brookes University you can learn more about this competition by clicking this link: