Explore: Engineering

Senior Composites Engineer
Lola Cars

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Paul R

00.00.02 My name’s Paul R. I’m the Senior Composites Engineer for Lola Cars International. As senior composites engineer it’s my responsibility to design all the structures that are made of carbon fibre that go onto a race car such as this. So we’re talking about crash strips at the front, the wings, the chassis which the driver sits him to protect him during a crash. So have to design all that structure that goes into there.

00.00.27 Most of my time is spent probably in front of a computer at a desk although a lot of it is also spent on the shop floor talking to the people making the parts, and also going and testing structures and parts as well. I think I always, maybe I didn’t know it, but I think I was always from the start going to be involved in engineering. My father ran his own business, a small business, as an agricultural contractor.

00.00.54 So he had a fairly large workshop with lots of dangerous tools for me to play with. I’ve always built things and played with things that were mechanical. I’ve always had a very sort of mechanical practical mind so I think it was inevitable that I’d be involved in engineering. And as a young boy it was aeroplanes that inspired me. I always liked aircraft.

00.01.13 I do remember as a young boy, probably about 10, my best friend one day saying that he’d love to be a pilot and fly aeroplanes and I agreed with him that he could be a pilot as long as I could be his engineer and design and engineer his aircraft. So I think from the age of 10 I knew I wanted to do engineering. I studied aerospace engineering at university which made use of maths, physics and design I’d done previously. I still found the maths was the arduous bit for me but I really enjoyed the practical side so enjoyed the drawing, the design, the analysis.

00.01.43 In my third year at university I did a sandwich placement so I went off into industry and worked for a year. And I actually worked for a museum restoring old aircraft so I got some very, very good hands-on experience making things, gluing things together, riveting them together working out how big and strong they needed to be and so. And that was a very, very valuable period of my career. So I initially started doing design work, so using drawing boards to design parts and components for aircraft. Towards the end of my aerospace career, if you want to call it that, I got involved in flight testing. So I was actually going flying two or three times a week with a flight test crew performing tests in flight and then analysing those results on return.

00.02.28 So I got a very wide-range of experience within that company. The reason for that was I joined a small company so you weren’t a very small wheel in a huge company. I was involved in lots of different areas. I think the turning point would be the day I got a job offer at Lola back in 2001. And that really was by luck. I happened to dial somebody on my mobile phone by accident when I was carrying my shopping up the hall. He’d managed to get himself a job here at Lola, hadn’t spoken to him for two years. He called me back after I hung up on him and we got chatting and that’s how I got the contacts at Lola.

00.03.08 The work-life balance is pretty good. I’ve recently had my first child. I had a daughter just over a year ago so that kind of changes things. It actually makes you realise that your job probably isn’t the most important thing in the world anymore and your child and your family are. So obvious a lot of my time at the weekends goes into spending time with my daughter. I really enjoy the outdoors. I love mountain biking, snowboarding when I can. Anything outdoors I really enjoy but there’s not enough I’m afraid in the week to do as much I’d like.

00.03.43 I’ve pretty much got the ideal job for me at the moment. I really enjoy my job but if I could choose it would be involved in a very high profile, high budget race car programme. And to be at the very, very cutting edge of a programme would be great fun.

00.04.00 End

Paul R is Senior Composites Engineer for Lola Cars International. He designs all the structures that are made of carbon fibre that go onto a race car. He has always enjoyed making things and preferred the practical aspects of his university degree in Aeronautical Engineering which included industrial placement.

More information about Mechanical engineers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

93%  male 
7%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Mechanical engineers undertake research and design, direct the manufacture and manage the operation and maintenance of engines, machines, aircraft, vehicle and ships’ structures, building services and other mechanical items.
Mechanical engineers usually possess an accredited university degree. After qualifying, periods of appropriate training and experience are required before membership of a chartered engineering institution is attainable. Incorporated engineers possess an accredited university degree, BTEC/SQA award or an apprenticeship leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 4, followed by periods of training and relevant experience.
  • Undertakes research and advises on energy use, materials handling, thermodynamic processes, fluid mechanics, vehicles and environmental controls;
  • Determines materials, equipment, piping, capacities, layout of plant or system and specification for manufacture;
  • Designs mechanical equipment, such as steam, internal combustion and other non-electrical motors for railway locomotives, road vehicles, aeroplanes and other machinery;
  • Ensures that equipment, operation and maintenance comply with design specifications and safety standards;
  • Organises and establishes control systems to monitor operational efficiency and performance of materials and systems.
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