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McLaren Internship winner embraced unique automotive opportunity

17 April 2018

Engineering student Thomas Evans recently returned from an eight week internship with McLaren which saw him gain unprecedented access to one of the world’s most advanced automotive manufacturers.

Working across a varied range of teams from Project Coordination through to Vehicle Development, Thomas followed the full life cycle of a road-going McLaren, spending roughly a week with each different team. 

He performed a range of enviable tasks as he moved throughout the teams, such as shaping a clay model of a car alongside “extremely skilled artisans” in the Design and Concept Team. In McLaren Special Operations, Thomas helped to make a car unique by helping to emboss a one-off interior according to a customer’s wishes.

Thomas also accompanied the Vehicle Development team to the Aragon race track just outside of Barcelona, where the latest addition to McLaren’s Ultimate Series, the Senna, was being put through its paces.

“I was lucky enough to have a hot lap in the car which was a pretty incredible experience. That was with their Chief Test Driver Gareth Howell who had spent thousands of hours in the car and knew exactly what he was doing.”

Thomas says that seeing how the best of the best operate was extremely valuable for him, and the close contact with other talented engineers only reaffirmed his desire to work in a similar environment after he graduates.

"The experiences working with these extremely technically skilled people with how they think and how they operate was amazing. The conversations you could have about what they’re currently doing and what they want to do in the future were just mind-blowing.”

In the meantime, he believes he can bring some of what he’s learnt into the Faculty’s Formula SAE programme he’s part of.

“Everything at Mclaren was so process and plan-driven. I'd like to think we're pretty organised with what we do but sometimes there's not always a clear goal or a clear set of gateways that we want to meet as we work towards designing a specific part. That’s something I want to instil in how we operate.”

Most importantly, the scholarship gave him a glimpse into a world he once thought was out of his reach.

"I've always wanted to do high-level technical engineering, but automotive is one of the sectors I thought I'd never have a chance to work in. Now it seems like a very real possibility purely because of this experience."

“There's not many industries where cost isn't the driving factor. Yes, McLaren is a business, but they want to build the sexiest and best product they can, and that's not hugely common within other industries."

The Bruce McLaren Scholarship has been established with the incredible support of McLaren Automotive. The programme has been funded with the assistance of generous donors, including the UK Friends of the University of Auckland and, more locally, the Giltrap Family.

The internship forms is just one element of the development of the Bruce McLaren Centre for Innovative Engineering. The specialist research centre will honour Bruce’s legacy by creating a place where collaborative problem solving brings about innovation and game-changing advances. It aims to link audacious research with commercial applications and provide a platform for the best research leaders and postgraduate students.

The Faculty of Engineering is currently seeking donors to support the vision of the Bruce McLaren Centre including support for academic staff, Postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and of course ensuring the long-term viability of the Bruce McLaren Internship Programme.