As someone who is deeply passionate about engineering, simulation, high-performance computing and AI, securing a year-long R&D placement at McLaren Applied Technologies is truly a dream come true.
The brand’s rich heritage, the people and the cutting-edge projects, are everything I was expecting, and more.
I’m currently developing a new DC/DC HV power converter aimed towards motorsport and high-performance automotive applications. I have drawn on the knowledge I gained through studying for my Electronic and Communications Engineering bachelor's degree at the University of Sheffield.
The DC/DC converter serves as a bridge between the high-voltage, battery side of a hybrid/electric powertrain and the low-voltage, control electronics side the driver has access to. It is meant to support key functional features, making it an important part of the system.
I’m developing a new power converter based on Gallium Nitride technology. GaN-based devices are an emerging product class in the market. They offer significant advantages over conventional Si or SiC-based solutions. They allow for higher frequency operation which reduces the need for sizeable electric energy storage media, and ultimately if the design is robust it enables a dramatic reduction in size and weight. Another advantage relates to the improved efficiency these devices exhibit. Switching losses are much smaller and consequently the overall system efficiency is better. There is less radiated heat which minimises, and in some cases eliminates, the need for a cooling system.
The proposed design will be one of the first to emerge in motorsport and high-performance automotive contexts. It puts McLaren Applied Technologies at the forefront of these markets and in a prime position to lead the way for years to come with plenty of further potential to be explored. The system will also serve as a cornerstone for other potential projects because the numbers suggest the implementation of GaN in higher power-rated systems is feasible.
McLaren Applied Technologies as seen by a student
It goes without saying that securing a placement with any company in the McLaren Group is no walk in the park, let alone having the opportunity to contribute to such a major project that can make a considerable difference in the long term. Ever since I started looking for placements, McLaren Applied Technologies was a priority for me because I was impressed by the growth of the company in recent years, its diverse range of projects and the areas of expertise within the company.
I think being at the intersection of motorsport and automotive, while paving the way for existing technologies in these fields to be applied to our daily lives is an exciting place to be. Not only does it allow you to work and interact in multidisciplinary projects, but it also gives the chance for people (including students) to come up with brilliant ideas that ultimately push the company forward. If innovation is what you’re looking for, McLaren Applied Technologies is definitely a place to consider. The company has sent out a strong message. People expect a high degree of responsibility and high standards.
Obviously, when you start working in a different place things can be a bit slow to start. There are new procedures, new people, new collaborations to form. This can be confusing and tiring sometimes. However, I found the people here to be very helpful, warm and always trying to aid me to getting in that zone where I can perform at my optimum so I can deliver the best.
It's also impossible to ignore the motorsport component and its related heritage. I’ve been an F1 fan ever since I can remember. I can still remember cheering for Mika and Fernando back when I was a kid. I must admit it feels a bit surreal when I walk past their cars in the McLaren Technology Centre. It's like a dream.
Browse career opportunities at McLaren Applied Technologies here.