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Pushing the boundaries

Lottie Gilmore was encouraged to explore engineering at school. Now with placements at Williams Racing under her belt, she hasn't looked back since

Posted by Jo Golding | November 07, 2018 | Technology

What drew you to engineering and what do you enjoy about it?

My favourite subjects at school were always physics and maths, but I also enjoyed the design and technology options too. During AS-levels I attended a networking event at Burgess Hill Girls, where I met people from different careers relating to STEM subjects. Here I met an engineer who encouraged me to explore the industry, and I was surprised at the number of opportunities available. Ranging from biomedical, chemical and structural, to automotive and aeronautical, the broad nature of engineering has allowed me to experience different areas before choosing what I would like to focus on in my future career.

After the networking event, I participated in the extra-curricular Engineering Education Scheme at school where a group of girls partnered with an engineering company to complete a project. We joined with Photek Ltd. who provided a project which involved learning how to code. The mentors were incredibly helpful and inspiring. After this I also took part in a Nuffield Research Placement where I was linked with another local company called OMEG Ltd. Here I joined the team and was mentored on a project where we manufactured a 5cc two-stroke diesel engine. The practical experience and learning about production methods was brilliant, and I was so proud to watch a month’s worth of work culminate when we got the engine running for the first time. Seeing the end product that you’ve been involved with work is something that I get great job satisfaction from.

In addition to this, engineering also offers the opportunity to work in teams to solve real-life problems. Learning about scientific concepts, applying them to innovate new designs, manufacturing and testing your ideas, and then releasing it to the industry is a fulfilling process which engineering offers. Completing this under time and cost pressures requires teamwork and interactions which I really enjoy.

You’ve completed a summer placement this year in the design office at Williams Racing. What tasks were you involved with?

My role at Williams during my placements has focused on the design aspect of engineering. This involved taking on projects where I designed parts for the suspension systems on the F1 cars. The process included developing components using 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Once the designs were finalised, drawings were created and sent to the manufacturing facilities at the factory to be made. I also took part in opportunities such as practical composite manufacture and joining the Race Support team during a Grand Prix weekend.

Can you tell me about your participation in and leading role in Formula Student; is there anything you can tell me about your car for 2019?

Formula Student is a competition where universities from around the world design and manufacture racing cars, then compete against each other at different events. 

I’ve been a member of Team Bath Racing (TBR) throughout university, where students from all year groups are involved in the process. Starting with carbon-fibre manufacture and progressing onto design projects, it’s been a brilliant opportunity to gain experience before going into industry.

For the 2019 season I am the Vehicle Dynamics technical lead. The role requires a technical understanding of the dynamic performance and set-up of the car, as well as the design requirements for suspension, steering and braking components. This must all be achieved while maximising the performance of other areas of the car, including the chassis, aerodynamics and powertrain. The Vehicle Dynamics group is made up of seven final year students, and time management is key due to the need to balance the design and testing deadlines of TBR alongside our university course. It’s a great challenge and opportunity to learn, and teaches us the fundamentals of an engineering team that can be applied in our future careers.

For the 2019 car, we plan to build a single-seat formula-style race car that uses modern designs, materials and manufacture methods to maximise performance. For example, the internal combustion engine that powers the car will be modified by the addition of a turbocharger, yet will use a renewable fuel. Complex driver aides such as launch control will be developed, and many areas of the car, from the chassis and aerodynamics package to the suspension components and wheels, will be constructed from lightweight materials such as carbon fibre, magnesium, and 3D printed plastics and metals. The overall aims for our car are to minimise weight and improve the reliability so that we can take on our competitors next summer.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far has been joining the Williams Racing team as a junior design engineer for an industrial placement year. I have followed the sport with my family from a young age and have always aspired to work in the industry, so starting my career with the team was an incredible feeling. My proudest moment was designing my first-ever component; the responsibility was challenging within the fast-paced environment, but I found it incredibly rewarding when the part was made and used on the car. 

How do you feel about your experience with independent education?

Burgess Hill Girls was a brilliant school with an atmosphere that encouraged pushing boundaries and developing skills. The teachers were influential and incredibly supportive with my academic studies, providing extra classes for STEP maths and university interview preparations. Outside of the curriculum, I built my teamwork through performing with the school’s music groups and learnt about leadership responsibilities in my role as House Captain. The school also encouraged me to develop areas I initially found challenging, such as public speaking, by offering opportunities like talking at open day events. 

I have continued to use and develop key skills acquired during my time at Burgess Hill Girls at both university and while working in industry. I learned to take on new challenges and risks, which have allowed me to pursue my passions both at university and in my engineering career.

You can follow news from Williams Racing on Twitter @williamsracing and visit their careers page at www.williamsf1.com/pages/careers.

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