Are you an aspiring engineer with dreams of working in Formula 1? If so, showcasing your CAD abilities in a well-crafted portfolio can set your application package apart in your job search. A CAD portfolio allows you to highlight your proficiency in creating, modifying, analysing, and optimising designs in a digital environment. This article, featuring insights from instructor Martin Buchan, reveals how Motorsport Engineer’s CAD Design Career Accelerator Program helps you build an impressive CAD portfolio that will help you stand out in your applications for your dream position in Formula 1.
Why is a CAD portfolio a must-have in the motorsport industry?
A CAD portfolio is an excellent way to showcase an engineer’s design capabilities. It offers a visual representation of a person’s competence in creating and modifying designs using CAD software for race car development. The portfolio also serves as a platform for engineers to demonstrate their skills in problem-solving and innovation, and Motorsport Engineer encourages aspiring engineers to include and highlight designs that improve car performance or address specific engineering challenges in their portfolios. A well-curated CAD portfolio can significantly increase an engineer’s credibility and employability within the competitive motorsport industry.
Why is CAD such a high-demand skill for an engineer in Formula 1?
Formula 1 teams rely on the most sophisticated CAD software like CATIA to develop and test the most advanced racing cars in the world. Teams regularly seek out new engineers to bring on board, so to be a competitive applicant Motorsport Engineer recommends building your CAD Design skills.
Because CATIA is the CAD software used by 7 of the 10 Formula 1 teams today, Motorsport Engineer designed the CAD Design Career Accelerator Program to teach CATIA 3DExperience through a six-week live course. The course specifically teaches CAD skills in a Formula 1 setting and helps students build and justify designs just as they would need to when working as part of a team, all while receiving feedback and input about best practices from the instructor. By the end of the course, students assemble their designs into a portfolio for use in job applications.
This unique course is taught by former Formula 1 engineer Martin Buchan, who brings years of authentic and practical experience to the course. At the end of the course, students assemble their own portfolio of designs which can make graduates of this course more competitive in the job market. Students also receive an industry-recognised certification upon completion of the course.
How does Motorsport Engineer guarantee quality learning opportunities for aspiring engineers?
Martin Buchan has no question that Motorsport Engineer is an unparalleled platform for aspiring engineers. Motorsport Engineer accomplishes this by providing courses taught by instructors who have both theoretical knowledge and practical experience. “Motorsport Engineer offers courses with industry professionals so they can tell you what’s relevant and what’s not”, says Martin.
How is the CAD Career Accelerator Program structured to help students build professional CAD portfolios and prepare them for real-world experience?
As the face of the course, Martin ensures the curriculum includes the skills and information to prepare students to work in conditions that he has experienced in his time in Formula 1. Martin also has picked parts and topics so that students can build their portfolio over the six weeks of the course with parts that showcase skills relevant to the industry.
“The course starts with the introduction of the basic functions of CATIA, so everyone is on the same page. We then commence with model design, which means we turn existing surfaces into producible parts. This is what designers begin with when they start working in a team”, explains Martin.
“Next, the more complex field is shape design. So, in weeks 3 and 4, we learned how to design complex aerodynamic surfaces in a parametric and efficient manner. Week 5 teaches students about technical drawings, and in week 6, they present their final assignment, which is a task in which they have to use everything they learned from weeks 1 to 5.”
From day one, students are given time to show their work and get feedback on their designs, so they can master the surface design creation procedure right up to the final day of the course when they are put to the test in their final presentations with their original concepts.
How should a CAD portfolio be tailored to a specific job within Formula 1?
Every role is unique, and your CAD portfolio should be too! Besides demonstrating know-how, it is essential to demonstrate that you understand the role that you are applying for and tailor your application package to reflect that.
Martin emphasises that the program is career-focused on aerodynamic principles and suitable for professionals who primarily are interested in Aero Design. “This course is preparing people for a role as aero designer, so everything is exactly what you need in this role. But in general, it’s good to broaden your horizon, so if you want to be an aerodynamicist and people see that you can actually design a wing yourself, it’s an advantage too.”
What attributes should a CAD portfolio crafted in the CAD-CAP course have?
It is fair to argue that a CAD portfolio is akin to a puzzle, and it’s up to every student to put each piece together gathered from the course correctly for a favourable end product. But the question is – what pieces should one have to be complete?
“First of all, the portfolio should have good pictures of the students’ designs so they can use them to discuss the construction in interviews. Pictures should be appealing for interviewers and show the capabilities of the candidate. At the same time, experienced engineers can already see the candidate’s experience level from the pictures. In addition to pictures, a portfolio should have descriptions of the intention of the design, the difficulties encountered, and how the student solved them”, Martin says.
The golden rule here is to clearly explain the project objectives, your role in its execution, and the adversities surpassed. Describe the methods to complete it, emphasising your proficiency in utilising these resources. Include any notable achievements or results obtained during the project, such as performance milestones or optimised design.
How can students showcase the design process in their portfolios?
“Have a tidy model tree and use pictures to show how they designed components.” Plain and simple. Martin’s secret for the best design demonstrations is to apply a clean format in the model tree and arrange the pictures accordingly.
At the highest level, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking are noteworthy traits. Your CAD portfolio should reflect your ability to push boundaries and mastermind distinctive solutions. Include projects demonstrating your creativity, such as novel aerodynamic designs, cutting-edge suspension systems, or advanced material utilisation. Highlight how your ideas and concepts can contribute to the performance and competitiveness of a Formula 1 car.
What advice can you give on keeping a CAD portfolio up-to-date and relevant to the industry?
For Martin, a CAD portfolio is all about technical worth. “It’s a very specific skill, so it almost doesn’t matter if you design a 2023 F1 car or a 2003 F1 car. Important is the skill set itself.”
Here, the projects you choose to include in your portfolio should align with the requirements and expectations of the industry, not to mention proper organisation and presentation to capture the attention of potential employers. Select designs that demonstrate your aptitude to design complex components, create accurate simulations, and optimise performance. Consider including projects that exemplify your expertise in aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics, and structural analysis, as these are key focus areas in design.
A meticulously designed CAD portfolio can pave your way to an ideal career in the dynamic sphere of Formula 1. Once you learn the skills and carefully curate your CAD portfolio, you can position yourself as a valuable asset to any team.
Remember to handpick pertinent projects, provide detailed descriptions, and tailor your portfolio for the role you’re applying to. With a comprehensive CAD portfolio combined with technical know-how, you’re setting yourself up to secure the job you always wanted in the pinnacle of motorsport. We hope Martin’s inputs have inspired you to hone your portfolio and leave your mark in Formula 1.