A Day In The Life Of... A Hardware Engineer At McLaren 🏎
Name: Benedict Chapman
Company: McLaren Applied Technologies
Job Title: Hardware Engineer
Uni subject: Electronic Engineering
I usually get breakfast at work so I'll have a coffee and maybe some toast or cereal at the subsidised restaurant. It’s cheap, easy, and a good time to talk with colleagues.
What do you listen to on your commute?
It's a very short commute, so usually I’ll listen to a few minutes of a podcast. There's a shuttle bus into the centre of Woking so there's not much time and I always end up forgetting where I am and relistening to the same few minutes. At the moment I’m listening to “The The One Show Show” and “No such thing as a Fish”.
What does the average day look like for you?
I spend most of my time designing circuits, reviewing them, finding problems and then fixing them. The exact work depends on what project I'm on and what stage they are at. Each project takes several months to complete and there is always some support work afterwards. The projects I am working on now are all about designing Engine Control Units, which are sort of the “brain” of the car. This controls many of the functions of a car, from injecting the fuel at the correct time to controlling the pressure of the water pump for Formula 1 drivers.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Probably the problem solving. They want something and I find a way to make it possible. It's also really rewarding seeing something you designed come to life.
If money was no object what would you do?
I'd really like to be designing prosthetic limbs, but I guess that if money was no object then I’d spend a lot of my time reading and writing... or maybe I would spend my time popping bubble wrap.
What was your favourite thing about uni?
The social life was great of course, but also I got to learn a lot of theory which was super interesting - the physics side of things. Understanding things deeper than you need to can help you make better decisions later on in different areas. You can apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learnt to so many things.
How’d your degree help you in your current role?
Immensely. I wouldn't have been able to do my current job if I hadn't have done my degree.
How did you get into Hardware Engineering?
I wanted to do something that used maths, but I also really liked the practical side of things. Engineering involves both, so it was an obvious choice for me to choose this particular course at uni.
What do you do to wind down after a long day?
Go to the gym, watch “How I Met Your Mother” with my housemates (seriously they don't watch anything else), or doing a pub quiz. Now that the weather is a bit better I'm a big fan of BBQs. We haven’t won that quiz yet.
What’s your advice to anyone wanting to be a Hardware Engineer?
If, as an engineer, you feel out of your depth just ask someone. The people around you are that good because they've done it for 30 odd years... ask them! They’ve been where you've been and most will be happy to explain things, even if it just to show off a bit. Always ask for help when you need it.