Joining a student team puts you in the driver’s seat to becoming an automotive engineer…
Guest Author: Johan van Uden, Software Designer, ICT
Evodays Business Presentation & Design Judge
Ever since I was a little kid, I had a passion for cars. Fast cars, to be more specific. It was no wonder to the people around me that, when asked for my dream job, the answer was always that I wanted to work in the automotive industry. Where most kids that age would prefer to become fireman or pilot, I always knew I wanted to work with racecars.
Whilst studying Electrical Engineering at University (TU Eindhoven), I went ahead on following up on that dream and joined University Racing Eindhoven (URE). Knowing just a little about how a combustion engine worked, (those were used by URE at that time) I really learned all my practical automotive skills and knowledge by working on the car.
It is precisely those kind of skills, the things you learn in a student team, that separates you from the average student on the job market. Understanding the theory is what you learn in class, but applying this knowledge in practice in an actual automotive project (that in many ways resembles the challenges you will face later on as a professional automotive engineer) is the real advantage you gain from joining a student team.
After being an electronics engineer at URE for over 7 years, it became time to graduate. Here it was a matter of meeting the right people at the right time. Having switched focus and personal interest from purely electronics to embedded systems and software, I had the opportunity to formulate a research assignment involving code generation from model-based design.
This research was performed at a new student team, InMotion, which we founded with a group of around ten students. All of us shared one single passion: motorsports. All of us already had experience in a student motorsports project, which led to our shared dream: “Entering the 24h of Le Mans in the Garage 56 class” and we set out to do so as a student team. Starting such a project combined with graduating was a whole new learning experience in so many ways. This made it possible to simultaneously develop on a technical and personal level, while doing what I loved to do, working with racecars.
Once I had graduated, I started my professional career at ICT Group (It should be no surprise that I started at the Automotive business unit) while still being active in the InMotion project. On a technical level, there was a perfect match between ICT’s Motar project and my own graduation research. While developing the Motar platform to a stage in which it should be tested and verified in a real-world proof-of-concept, ICT and InMotion could be linked. Using the platform that enables you to run Simulink models directly on a production ECU, proved tremendously useful for the development car (called the IM/e) we were manufacturing at InMotion. The Motar platform could be used to actually control the entire car with just a couple of ECU’s. A technical partnership was born.
For me personally this meant spending my time part-time in Automotive software projects for the big car manufacturers (OEMs) and part-time in supporting InMotion technically with the embedded systems.
Recently at InMotion we saw even more examples of how joining a student team puts you in the driver’s seat to becoming an automotive engineer. Two of our graduates went to work at Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Formula 1 team, while two others went to Toyota motorsports in Germany.
But it isn’t limited to people only, also the technologies you develop at a student team can make a real impact. InMotion’s partner in 3D printing titanium parts for the IM/e (which are currently on the car) announced last week that they will be printing parts for Sauber’s F1 team as well next season. So, student teams really are the future of automotive industries.
With thanks to Johan van Uden (Evodays 2017 Business Presentation & Design Judge)