A Winning Formula: The University Partnership Driving the Next Generation of Motorsport Engineers

Jun 17, 2024 10:45 AM ET

The choice of what to study at college often comes to students during a conversation with their tutor, or after conducting an in-depth web search of the ‘most fun university towns’. For one lucky group of students at the University of Wolverhampton (UoW) in England, however, their sights have been set on a career in motorsport from a young age.

Following on from BETT, the world’s largest technology and education event, we sat down with students from the University of Wolverhampton’s motorsport engineering course to discuss how they came to be involved in such a specialized degree – and how it is preparing them to enter the motor racing world.

Alyce Mayo, a second-year motorsport engineering student, says motorsports has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve been growing up around motorbikes my whole life,” she says. “I pursued the University of Wolverhampton because they not only offered a degree in motorsport engineering but also had a professional race team, and that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”

For Tyler Lewis, inspiration struck when an unexpected visitor turned up at his school. He was just 13 years old when a delegation from UoW gave a talk to students about the exciting work being done by the Formula 3 student team – less than a mile away from the school.

“From then on, I knew exactly where I was going to go, and I strived to join the course, becoming the first person in my sixth form to ever achieve this,” he says.

“I had always been into cars, from getting my first Hot Wheels car to watching car shows on TV with my dad every weekend growing up. And then it almost just naturally progressed into, well, how do these cars work? How do they get faster?”

In years gone by, both Alyce’s and Tyler’s dreams would most probably have gone nowhere. But thanks to the partnership between Lenovo and UoW, those dreams have become reality. The duo are part of an ambitious generation of engineers benefiting from specialized courses which create opportunities for a broad variety of backgrounds and experiences, some with very little exposure to STEM.

The UoW Engineering degrees go beyond the classroom by giving students real-time learning experiences through involvement in its motorsport racing team, University of Wolverhampton Racing (UWR).

Working with professional racing drivers and motorsport technicians, through UWR students travel to racing circuits around the UK to compete against professional and amateur drivers in multiple championships.

As third-year student Thomas Russell puts it: “As soon as you decide that you want to be a motorsport engineer, you become so focused on a certain set of criteria that you immediately become an optimal employee prospect.

“That’s an incredible opportunity. You then tick most of the boxes that employers are looking for – which is something most people who are twice your age still don’t have.”

Lenovo actively supports higher education through a range of university partnerships and has been a proud partner of UWR for 8 years. It is important to note the word “partner” here. This is much more than a simple sponsorship, as multiple alumni success stories attest. Students are making the transition from university to the very top level of the sport: Formula 1®. Lenovo and F1 have been in partnership since 2022, bringing the sport to a global TV audience well in excess of 1.5 billion.

Lenovo’s technology supports the motorsport industry at all levels, from the training of tomorrow’s engineers to the execution of the F1 organization’s most critical operations.

Lenovo’s partnership with UoW is enabling students to work in a specialized world and have access to unique opportunities by providing equipment to assist with CAD design and the extraction of real-time data during races, to donating PCs to help students complete their dissertation projects that directly influence the racing team.

Richard Mann, a third-year engineering student and head of UWR’s Morgan team, has been front and center in helping the race team excel while also completing his studies.

“Lenovo technology facilitates easy communication, sharing ideas and reviewing designs,” he says. “This collaborative approach allows us to innovate and improve based on real-time feedback.

“The programme exposes us to real-world systems and work environments. Lenovo technology streamlines our tasks, making us accustomed to the efficiency required in the industry. It’s preparing us for a seamless transition into the professional world.”

The significant number of UoW graduates already working in motorsports teams and the related supply chain is clear evidence that UoW has created a winning formula in its motorsport engineering degree – and that Lenovo’s partnership has further enriched those learning opportunities.

With plans in place to enhance the tech stack for 2024, the next generation of engineering talent is already on the starting grid, eager to show what they can do.