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FROM EXPLORING YOUR ENGINEERING ITCH TO BECOMING PROUD OF YOUR WORK

Faaris has been involved directly in multiple engineering projects since he joined Prodrive Advanced Technology as part of its 2022 graduate intake. We asked him to give an insight into his first year, here's what he had to say.


An engineer is explaining an idea to a colleague
Faaris Sheikh, Prodrive Graduate Engineer

What attracted you to a career in Engineering? When I was younger, I was very interested in anything cars and racing. As I got older, I found that this was a viable career path to be a part of the industry that produced these machines I was so interested in. This led me to pick Maths, Physics and Design Technology at A-Level, which I also enjoyed, and the direction became a clear choice for me at university.


What University did you study at and what course did you study? How does this relate to your work at Prodrive? I gained an MEng in Mechanical Engineering and the University of Sussex, which gave me a strong theoretical grounding. I was also the Team Leader of the Formula Student team in my 4th year, trying to emulate an industry project. This meant talking to suppliers and coming up with realistic, workable solutions to problems, not to mention the hands-on experience that Prodrive want in new graduates.


Tell us in your own words about your start to life at Prodrive.

I was told that the Prodrive Graduate scheme would be different to others, and they have stood by their word!


I have been in live projects since my first week, with design and decision-making responsibilities from the very beginning. I was very quickly into a routine of having technical discussions with Chief and Principal Engineers, which has helped my development.

I’ve also already been in client meetings giving my input directly.


What is your role at Prodrive and what does it involve? What’s a typical day in your job? I am currently working as part of the Design Validation (DV) team on an active aerodynamics project for a hypercar. My day starts at 8:30 which usually involves around 15-20 mins of emails, followed by a stand-up project team meeting to report on issues. I then continue with my assigned tasks, with regular check-ins with the DV Lead to discuss design direction and progress.


I also have regular catchups with my Technical Mentor to discuss how I am getting on and if I can draw on their experiences to help me with my work.


What sort of projects do you get to work on?

In my 14 months at Prodrive so far, I have been involved as a Design Engineer on a micro-mobility project and an active aerodynamics project. I then moved to the simulation team for the same active aero project, where I have also undertaken some control engineering. I am now designing tests to validate the system as part of the Design Validation team.


I have worked on a wide range of projects and disciplines in my short time at Prodrive, which has allowed me to find the area of engineering I am most passionate about. So whilst also enjoying my work I’m also able to contribute in the best way to the business.


What’s the most exciting part of your job at Prodrive?

Coming to work and knowing you are contributing to world-class engineering solutions is very exciting and a real motivation for me. Working with household names I saw on TV when I was young, and now being on the inside of a lot of that, is something I am proud of.


You never know what is coming around the corner, but at Prodrive, you also know it will be interesting and challenging, whatever it is.

What attracted you to Prodrive Advanced Technology? I was aware of Prodrive as a brand due to its World Rally heritage, but the breadth of work within Advanced Technology is something I was keen to get stuck into, as I did not want to be a specialist in one area. Prodrive Advanced Technology is the perfect place to explore that engineering itch.


Describe the culture in Prodrive Advanced Technology.

My experience has been that everyone is willing to share their expertise and is very approachable even if they have many years of experience. If you are willing to get stuck in, everyone is willing to help you develop in any way they can.


What makes working for Prodrive unique?

The range of projects is huge. Whilst I was working on a micro-mobility vehicle for a start-up the person sitting next to me was working on an intelligent interiors application for an aerospace OEM and the person next to them was working on a hydraulic actuation system. Being exposed to that breadth has been integral to my development so far.


Describe how your assigned Technical Mentor has helped you.

My technical mentor, Alan, has been specifically assigned to me to help with challenges I might encounter in project work. I have been working with him since the first project and have monthly catchups with him, along with impromptu questions as work progresses. He has always been available to chat about things and has helped me understand industry standards in areas such as engineering drawings and mechanical design.


An engineer sat as a desk looking at CAD
Faaris is currently working as part of our Design Validation team

There is also a 'Buddy System' as part of the Graduate entry, can you describe how it helps someone new to Prodrive?

My buddy was Paddy, he was a graduate a year before I was. He was someone that I could go to for smaller questions like, “Where’s the tea?” that I didn’t want to bother senior engineers with. This has also been helpful as he fully understands the steep learning curve graduates go through and how to best navigate being a Graduate Engineer.


Where do you see the Prodrive Graduate Scheme taking you and what would you like to do in the future?

Having done some mechanical design, physical system simulation and finite element analysis, I’d like to move more into simulation and controls.

Prodrive has already been very helpful with moving me on to specific projects to create the correct development path. This coupled with training in certain areas has made me more effective in the disciplines I want to develop within.

What would you say to an Undergraduate researching Graduate Schemes who would like to know about Prodrive or your experience so far?

I believe the development I am getting with the breadth of projects is unparalleled here at Prodrive. I cannot think of another place where, within the 2 years of the graduate scheme, you will get both the opportunity for project responsibility and such broad exposure to the range of technical disciplines, all in one place, whilst also having a real emphasis on your personal and professional development as a young engineer.





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