Michael Sansoni Performance Simulation Engineer, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team
BEng Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2015
Pretty much everything that I learned on my course has come into use in my job. From mechanical principles to understand car suspension, to the aerodynamics and how they affect car balance, to using my computer programming skills to develop analytical tools to help understand data.
"The University of Southampton is a great mix of a campus university whilst still being close enough to a large city to get the benefits of both. The fact it’s a campus means you meet so many people without being lost in a big city. I played for the university hockey team which was a great way to take my mind off my degree and also meet new people."
What was your placement, and how did you find it?
"My placement was such an amazing experience, and I now work for the team. My placement role was focused on race engineering, therefore during race weekends it was a data analysis role. We receive live telemetry from the car whilst it is on track so constantly we are better trying to understand trends or spot potential issues with the car and feeding this information back to the track, whether it is to the engineers or directly to the drivers. During the week it involved further data analysis if there were specific issues/improvements which were to be implemented for future events, or the role was more driven towards improving the processes during the weekends – programming new analytical tools.
It was a fantastic time to be part of the team, given everyone is on such a high after such the amazing last two seasons. To be part of a team at the pinnacle of its success in this sport really has been experience I never thought I’d experience on placement even before graduating university!
Pretty much everything that I learned on my course has come into use during my placement. From mechanical principles to understand car suspension, to the aerodynamics and how they affect car balance, to using my computer programming skills to develop analytical tools to help understand data."
Why did you choose to do your placement at MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team?
"I was fortunate enough to be offered placement positions at a couple formula one teams, however the roles offered were slightly different. I chose MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team because the role I had been offered was better aligned to the role I wanted to do upon graduating.
I was been offered a permanent position (which I accepted) at MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team off the back of my internship to return as a Performance Simulation Engineer."
Why did you choose to come to Southampton?
"Choosing universities for my course it was always between Imperial College London and Southampton. I knew I wanted to work in Formula One after university and the University of Southampton has fantastic links to Formula One. Having been to both universities’ open days and talking to students from both universities I knew I wanted to have the ‘proper’ university experience; something I felt would be missing from going to university in London".
What did you enjoy most about your course?
"There are many things I enjoyed. The course is very well structured in terms of the way modules always seem to lead into the next module. For example theories you are learning in a mathematics module one week can the next week be applied in a derivation you are evaluating in aerodynamics the next week. You are never behind the content and it’s very easy to reinforce learning when you are approaching it from the theoretical and applied viewpoints at the same time."
What did you enjoy most about your project work?
"In my third year I completed an individual project. This was an excellent way for me to develop my skills away from my specific course discipline. I have always had an interest in control systems and vehicle dynamics, and at the time I was applying for industrial placements, therefore I chose a project which would best demonstrate my interests as well as to develop my skills.
My project was to develop a computer model to simulate an internal combustion engine. During the project I developed computer programming skills – which came in very useful during my placement, as well as a broader understanding of the importance of computer models in modern day engineering, and the processes involved to develop them."
What were your lecturers and tutors like?
"The lecturers at Southampton are fantastic. As you go through your academic life at Southampton you meet so many people at the forefront of their field. Many of the articles that I was reading for my individual project or even for my internship, were authored by my lecturers; it is a constant reminder of how privileged I was to study at Southampton.
During my third year project I was always dropping into lecturers’ or tutors’ offices asking questions and the insight and quality of answers they can give is infinitely better than reading them from a book and they genuinely do always have time for you."
How do you think your course helped you in your career so far?
"Having had the year in industry I can say for certain that the course has helped me for my future career. Seeing theory/processes we have learnt in our lectures implemented in industry really is assurance that the course is the teaching us the right things to be prepared for our careers ahead. Not only that but also being able to propose ideas that haven’t been considered because our course syllabus adapts with industry."
If you could give prospective students one piece of advice, what would it be?
"Try everything. If you don’t know what you want to do after graduating take short summer internships between years, you earn money and get out of your overdraft, whilst also being able to learn and develop new skills and get a better understanding of what it is you would like to do after graduating – it’s a win/win."