University of Huddersfield
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University of Huddersfield: Inside the placement of a mechanical and automotive engineering student

Omar Zayed from Egypt has always been passionate about automotive engineering. His ambition was to work in Formula One (F1). Thus, when it was time to decide which country to study abroad, the UK seemed like the right place to get him one step closer to his dream career. “I always wanted to study automotive engineering, particularly in the UK, as many Formula 1 teams are based in the UK,” he says.

And when he discovered that the University of Huddersfield had a successful Formula Student team (Team HARE), he knew he’d found the right university. “After some research, I discovered the team had placed this in the Formula Student competition in 2019 and many alumni had gone on to work in F1,” he says.

The university holds a Gold rating in the 2023 Teaching Excellence Framework — a testament to the institution’s outstanding student experience and outcomes. Once awarded, these ratings last for four years.

For Zayed, however, hands-on experience was just as important to him as prestige. The biggest highlight of his time here was a work placement with Red Bull Powertrains, a subsidiary of the successful F1 team, Red Bull Racing.

“The organisation works on designing and maintaining the engine/power unit that powers the car,” shares the Automotive and Motorsport Engineering BEng (Hons) student. “The main aim is to win the Drivers and Constructors World Championships. For the past two years, this has been the case.”

His day-to-day activities include supporting the design of engine components with computer-aided designs and running FEA and CFD simulations to ensure that each product operates, and functions as expected. Beyond this, Zayed works on failure investigation and fault fixing as well as other areas of the business, such as materials simulation, performance, and others, to find the root cause of failed components. He also works closely with the team to execute innovative containments and solutions to prevent repeated failures.

University of Huddersfield

Automotive and Motorsport Engineering BEng (Hons) student Omar Zayed’s work placement was with Red Bull Powertrains, a subsidiary of the successful F1 team, Red Bull Racing. . Source: University of Huddersfield

In a sport where every milligram can make a world of difference, Zayed strives to design parts that are light, reliable, and deliver the maximum power — all whilst being cost-efficient. In 2022, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile introduced a cost cap to the sport, which prevents F1 teams from overspending.

Red Bull Racing is one of the few teams who have gone to build their engines, making it the ideal place for Zayed to gain real-world insights. “It just gives an unlimited amount of experience, which you cannot get anywhere else because you know the first principles of everything,” Zayed explains.

It’s an experience that has fueled his professional and personal development. He understands what it takes to succeed in the industry, he knows the qualities teams are looking for in a candidate, and he got to work with one of the best engineers in the motorsport industry.

“The main skills that I have developed are problem-solving, communication and time management, each of which is equally as important, and I feel being creative when problem-solving is crucial,” he shares.

Much of this opportunity was made possible with help from the Placement Unit. The computing and engineering placement team works alongside industry partners, providing tailored support to all students throughout the recruitment process. These include help with crafting a compelling CV to giving tips on how to conduct an effective interview.

“To put it simply, without the support from the placement unit in my school, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he enthuses. “They supported me throughout my journey, from CV and cover letter advice to preparation for my interview and other advice.”

University of Huddersfield

The Automotive and Motorsport Engineering BEng(Hons) is an Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) accredited programme, which means it goes towards helping graduates attain their status as an Incorporated Engineer. Source: University of Huddersfield

In the classroom, students work in small teams and collaborate with peers from different engineering subjects as part of EnABLE (Engineering in an Activity-Based Learning Environment), where they solve real engineering problems and test their solutions against other groups in a supportive and friendly competitive environment.

In their final year, students can work on a selected individual research or design project with support from an academic supervisor. Part of this opportunity includes working with Team HARE, an Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) initiative to promote excellence in engineering.

Backed by industry and high-profile engineers, the Formula Student competition aims to inspire and develop innovative young engineers. Each year, university students from across the globe are challenged to design and build a single-seat racing car to compete in static and dynamic events. Notably, the team’s presence at Silverstone, a renowned racing venue, reflects Huddersfield’s dedication to practical skill development and real-world engagement.

With such solid preparation to join this evolving field, it’s easy to how 100% of graduates have secured employment or furthered their studies within 15 months of graduation. They can be found in a variety of roles such as senior supplier quality engineer, vehicle engineering manager, design engineer, lead engineer and test engineer in organisations including McLaren Automotive Ltd, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd, Rolls-Royce, Cummins Inc and Bentley Motors Ltd.

Click here to learn more about the University of Huddersfield and its engineering programmes.

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