see. think. act.
English
Languages
Deutsch

2019

#zftrainees

A Club of Young Talents

Min Reading Time
Tags: FormerTrainees, TraineeProjects
Joseph Martin , July 30, 2019
author_image
Joseph Martin was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA and completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Why Formula Student is Such a Great Talent Pool

As I prepare to return to Formula Student Germany at the Hockenheimring this year, I have spent some time reflecting on why Formula Student (or Formula SAE, as it is known in the US) is so important to me. Not only has it taught me more about engineering, teamwork, project management, and cars than most of my studies ever could, it has also continued to provide an excellent format for companies to find exactly the kind of young talents they need.

More than Just a Student Club

More than Just a Student Club

A proper Formula Student team is a small business in its own right. The team must govern themselves, find funding and manage their budgets, recruit talents, design and produce an entire vehicle, manage sponsors and suppliers, and develop a long-term plan. Of course, teams execute this to different degrees of professionalism (after all, it is a competition), but the perennial favorites are run much like small companies. Being a part of a team, requires students to learn and master all these aspects and the consequences of neglecting areas can have effects which last long beyond the few seasons for which the students are actually on the team. Imagine your entire staff working on a 2 to 4 year contract and having to replenish their skills and knowledge on such a short cycle. The team’s that do it well have some truly innovative vehicles and are at the top of the leaderboard for more than just a couple of seasons.

Passion and Innovation

Passion and Innovation

The competition is constantly adapting and evolving to meet the newest challenges in the automotive industry. From purely combustion vehicles, to electric, and most recently to fully autonomous race cars. Teams have more design space than they are likely to find in any other racing series or even in industry. At the same time, they must work towards delivering a complete vehicle, and performing well in all the disciplines, and not getting lost in developing the coolest, lightest brake system ever, while losing all that performance gain in other areas due to neglect. Beyond challenging their technical skills and engineering prowess, the competition demands that they learn to manage themselves in a way which leads towards their overarching goal. To achieve this, the best teams have a better grasp of systems engineering than some projects in the automotive engineering.

From Student to Employee

From Student to Employee

Of course, my main priority as a design judge is to evaluate the quality of the engineering work behind the car and when possible to give some advice. Secondly, it is to learn from the students, whom often have knowledge or concepts in which they have a much deeper grasp than some judges do. But we are also there to look for future talents. And could one imagine a better place? Over 1000 motivated young people, who choose to use their free-time during their studies to learn about how to design, build and race their own car. The background they have is invaluable to employers and I truly believe they get up to speed in their new roles faster than most and bring a set of skills which is well beyond what we normally would hope for from someone who has just completed their degree.

To date, ZF has over 150 Formula Student alumni in the company, and I am hoping to find a few more this year. If you are free on August 10th and 11th, be sure to check out the teams, and the ZF stand in Hockenheim.