USA, MSc Motorsport Engineering
“Here, you actually get into aerodynamics, engine design, vehicle dynamics and tyres, a lot of the really niche motorsport stuff. So I think that’s what makes it special.”
Why did you decide to study in the UK?
Well, I’ve always wanted to come to the UK for a cultural immersion experience for as long as I can remember. And I found Formula Student in the States and learned more about it and saw the facilities and the courses that Brookes had, that really stood out. And then I talked to a mutual friend, who went through the course about five years ago, and that just confirmed that that’s where I want to go.
Why did you choose the MSc Motorsport Engineering course to study at Brookes?
Well, the main focus is motorsport engineering and that’s the region I’d like to go into for a career. Automotive, there’s quite a lot development going on there as well but just the pace that motorsport, in particular Formula 1, moves at and then the new technologies that they’re always developing, was really enticing. So Motorsport Engineering course offered a mix of specific areas that I wanted to focus on and then some more broad courses as well, to help develop myself as a better engineer overall.
What’s the best thing about your course that you’re doing now?
I think it’s just how direct and focused it is, in terms of the racing and more automotive-specific side. A lot of other universities can have an automotive focus where a lot of the coursework is based on mechanics of certain components. Whereas here, you actually get into aerodynamics, engine design, vehicle dynamics and tyres, a lot of the really niche motorsport stuff. So I think that’s what makes it special. And also, the faculty and the facilities; just being able to actually see three Formula 1 cars here on display is very motivating. And then all of the faculty have consulted for numerous teams and the different connections and being centrally located, in Motorsport Valley as well, is quite helpful.
How does the teaching style at Brookes compare to the teaching style of your previous experience, in the States?
It’s different and I think a lot of that’s due to the difference in the accreditation expectations. It’s a lot more independent, they leave a lot open. So there’s a lot of discussion in the lectures and seminars about where you can go with things and discussion about different directions that you could look at. It’s maybe not as specific as some undergraduate teachings but then again, that’s the Master’s level, it’s a lot of independent exploration. But there seems to be more of a level of passion with a number of the instructors, lecturers here, compared with my previous experience. Again, I don’t have Master’s level experience of this in the US but it seems there’s quite a few lecturers here that are very passionate about what they’re doing and are really. They’ll spend any time with the students to discuss about anything.
What learning facilities do you use the most at Oxford Brookes?
Computer labs and then in the Autolab in the R Building, where we just were, there’s a couple of technicians there that have previous experiences, like Formula 1 mechanics and race engineers, things like that. So they’ll do a lot of hands-on sessions with, ‘Here’s how you can set up the car, the suspension. Here’s are the differences’, and things like that. They have a lot of cutaway engines and gearboxes so you can see how everything works and put systems together, things like that. And I’ve got to run the 4-post suspension rig with the FS car a little bit, as well, and that’s a very unique tool that very few universities would have.
How did the teaching and administration staff help you settle in to Brookes when you came over?
Well, it was a very welcoming atmosphere and the induction and enrolment week was nice because it was quick to sign up for courses. There wasn’t really a lot of choice that we had because there was a narrow module selection. But there were a lot of events planned within the department and to interface with the lecturers. I think the best thing that there was was a meet-and-greet lunch session where it was all of the lecturers from the department. They were sat out at different tables, they had the name cards and what courses they taught. And it was pretty much just go around and meet whoever you wanted to talk to and have a discussion. So I think that was great to really get to break the typical boundary of student and teacher and have a little bit more sort of general interaction about things.
Have you done a work placement?
I did a work placement back in the US, it was a summer internship for three months at Spirit AeroSystems. So a commercial and defence contractor for Boeing and Airbus.
Would you recommend this course to another student?
Yes, it’s the knowledge that’s taught and the experience that the lecturers have in various areas and the number of opportunities to apply that knowledge through Formula Student or the Dallara Project or there seem to be other independent research projects that the lecturers have. Particularly with things like vehicle dynamics, if you really want to have a course on that, you pretty much have to sign up for a seminar that’s geared more towards the commercial and motorsport side. Even as a student, they’re rather expensive but it’s subsidised well. But to have a lot of that really specific knowledge that’s available in a university environment is very enticing to be a part of.
Do you like living in Oxford?
Yeah, it’s nice, it’s been a nice change from big cities in the States. It’s just a completely different atmosphere. It’s nice to be able to walk everywhere and the city centre environment is really unique, really interesting.
Do you have a favourite place in Oxford that you go to?
Yeah, there’s a pub on George Street, called the Beerd. That’s a micro-craft brewery and they have really good pizza as well.
At Brookes, are you involved in any clubs or societies or anything like that?
Well, I’m one of the student representatives for the Motorsport and Engineering course. So I’ve attended a couple of subject committee meetings with other student representatives in the department and all of the faculty and the administrative staff. So that’s been a really good way to give feedback from most of my peers and my own feedback on how the course could improve. I’m also involved a bit with the Formula Student team. I had four years doing Formula Student in the States so I’ve been advising on different areas, primarily with suspension and team organisation. And then, apart from that, I’m also a member of the Brookes cycling team so I’ve done a bit of road cycling over the last few years and I’ve enjoyed competing.
Which hall are you living in and do you enjoy it?
I’m living in Clive Booth Postgraduate and I like it, it’s nice. It’s its own enclosed separate sort of thing so it’s nice. And the fact that it’s postgraduate, everybody’s at the same maturity and mentality. I know there’s quite a few motorsport engineers and engineers in general there.
How easy did you find it, settling in to life in the UK, in the university, in the city?
It wasn’t too bad. The currency, a lot of people, I think, in the States play up the difference in currency and it’s not really that difficult to get used to. I think the biggest thing, for me at least, was the public transportation because the Dallas-Fort Worth area is not very big on public transportation. Other cities, like Chicago, New York, LA are, but Dallas-Fort Worth, everybody just has cars, you drive yourself everywhere. So getting used to the bus system and the scheduling and things like that took a couple of weeks to get used to. But outside of that, not really a whole lot.
Would you recommend Oxford Brookes to other international students?
I would, yeah. Even before I came here, the International Student Advice Team was very helpful in answering questions regarding, and in all stages of application, just general information. And then when I arrived here, I think I signed up for, it was the meet-and-greet service at Heathrow. I’d been to Heathrow before, a couple of years ago, but that was on holiday with my parents. My dad had been to London many times so he was like, ‘Yeah, we need to go here, we need to go here’. So that was helpful in getting from the terminal to the bus that I needed, to come to Brookes. Yeah, just in general, Brookes is very universal so I think that’s really nice. I’ve met people from all over so it’s been more a global cultural experience as well than just a UK cultural experience.
Do you have any top tips for international students considering coming to Brookes or coming to Brookes?
Yeah, tips or recommendations, from an engineering standpoint and just Master’s courses in general, it is very time-intensive and the coursework is quite a lot but I’d definitely say try to get out in Oxford and try to travel a little bit. I went to Brighton for a day last semester and that was really nice. Just try to explore things while you’re here, make sure you set time for that.