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Time trial

It was go, go, go for one budding motorsport engineer in a race against the clock at this year’s Autosport International show.

BY Matt Richardson, Staffordshire University

Revving into action for the 23rd year running, the world of motorsport claimed centre stage in the vast halls of Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre with the return of the Autosport International in January.

With the very best piston-pumping machinery ranging from Formula One™ racers down to do-it-yourself kit cars under one roof, there was a distinct air of optimism surrounding the motor industry for 2013.

Autosport International also played host to the range of manufacturing companies which help drive the latest innovations at the heart of the automotive industry in Britain and Europe, while Scottish Formula One™ driver Paul Di Resta and British Touring Car Champion Gordon Shedden were among the special guests in attendance this year.

But, for recent Staffordshire University Motorsport Technology graduate Matt Butcher, Autosport International 2013 brought its own challenge – to build a race-ready Formula Renault from scratch over the four day event.

“We started with just the shell of the car adding everything from the steering, suspension and the engine in just four days. We even added the fire extinguisher! But luckily we didn’t need to use it,” said Matt.

Matt, 24, who now works for Eccleshall-based Motorsport engineer specialist JWA Racing, was joined by a team of current Staffordshire University Foundation Degree Motorsport Technology students.

James Hedrick, 19, who is studying for his Foundation Degree in Motorsport Technology at Staffordshire University, says the experience of being at Autosport International is one he will cherish.

“We were surrounded by leading manufacturers, engineers and industry experts and they all had their eyes on us because we were taking on this challenge, it was great exposure for the team.”

Alex Heaton, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Staffordshire University said: “Experiencing events like this is key to the professional development of students. To get people from all walks of the motorsport and engineering industry under one roof does not happen very often and you have to seize your chance when it does.

“What better way for our students to show their potential and attract the interest of industry members than by getting stuck in to a live build at Autosport International, one of the world’s largest and well known Motorsport shows.”

James Watt, formerly of McLaren and now Managing Director of JWA Racing commented, “This was a fantastic effort by the team at Autosport International and they handled the build very well under the watchful eyes of thousands of visitors and industry experts.”

Breaking into the Motorsport industry isn’t easy, but with the determination to succeed it can lead to life-changing possibilities. One year after graduating, Matt Butcher has travelled the world with JWA Racing and was part of a team competing in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2012. What is his aim for 2013? To be part of the winning team when he returns this year. If you’re serious about the industry as much as he is, you could be there too.

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Foundation Degree Motorsport Technology

Engineers on the course spend the first half of the year learning the basics which will equip them with the skills to enter a race team. In the second half of the year students join with one of Staffordshire University’s partner companies where they are responsible for preparing and supporting cars which could potentially race all over the world. 

Staffordshire University’s Foundation Degree in Motorsport is unique in its offer of work experience and key to the course is the work-based project, which allows students to demonstrate skills in the industry.

Levels 1 and 2 of the award provide a solid foundation of technical knowledge and skills in motorsport and racing technology, covering areas such as Mechanics, Logistics, Race Preparation and Management.

After this point you can leave with a Foundation Degree in Motorsport Technology, subject to successful course completion, or choose to continue your studies to Honours Degree level in one of Advanced Vehicle Dynamics, Aerodynamics or Engine Design.

Web links

For course information and undergraduate advice: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/undergraduate 

For videos about Motorsport Technology at Staffordshire University http://www.youtube.com/staffsuni

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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