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      My Formula 1 work placement

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      My Formula 1 work placement

      Mechanical Engineering student Chelsea Morison put her skills to the test on a placement year with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. They design, manufacture, test and race highly advanced power units for Formula 1 and road cars.

      Ever since she can remember, Mechanical Engineering student Chelsea Morison has wanted to work in the high-octane world of Formula 1.

      Last summer, her childhood dream became a reality as she embarked on a placement year at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains.

      The company, which is based in Northamptonshire, develops Formula 1 power units for vehicles driven by the likes of Lewis Hamilton.

      Learning on the job

      “I hadn’t considered a placement year. My initial plan was to do my course, and within that year do two summer internships,” explains Chelsea.

      “However, while I was looking, I thought I’d expand my search just to see what else was out there and what companies I would be willing to devote a year to, and Mercedes was one of them.”

      Almost every Newcastle University student has the opportunity to spend time working in industry.

      In 2018, 550 students gained valuable experience working for organisations ranging from large FTSE100 firms to cutting-edge small and medium-sized enterprises.

      Chelsea decided to apply for a position at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, “not really thinking anything would come of it.” Chelsea was eventually invited to an assessment day, where she was offered a 14-month placement in Programme Management as a Hardware Co-ordinator.

      Chelsea with Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

      I was worried that the reality wouldn’t live up to my expectations – that it might kill off any passion I had for Formula 1 – but it’s everything I expected and more.

      Chelsea Morison, Mechanical Engineering student

      “The role has involved a steep learning curve,” admits Chelsea, who prior to taking up the position had limited work experience in the industry.

      “I’ve had a lot to learn and needed to use my own initiative to be successful, which has been hard at times, but it’s a great opportunity to grow and test yourself.

      “As Hardware Co-ordinator, it’s my job to interact with all areas of the business and know which parts of a power unit go where and why they need to go there.”

      Her day-to-day role might involve talking to mechanical engineers about their designs; sourcing parts; making the build team aware of specifications; or pushing finished products through to inspection and testing.

      A new road ahead

      The immense feeling of job satisfaction has convinced Chelsea that this is the field she would like to work in after completing her Mechanical Engineering course next year. The Formula 1 connection adds an extra element of excitement.

      “It was a really bizarre and surreal experience walking in on my first day and seeing Lewis Hamilton’s World Championship-winning car hanging from the ceiling,” remembers Chelsea.

      “It’s been a dream of mine to work for Mercedes for a long time. I didn’t know when in my career I’d get around to it, but I knew that it was my end goal.

      "Initially when I started the placement, I was worried that the reality wouldn’t live up to my expectations – that it might kill off any passion I had for Formula 1 – but it’s everything I expected and more.”

      'Unbelievable atmosphere'

      One moment that definitely exceeded expectations was the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship when Mercedes was named World Constructors’ Champion, with driver Lewis Hamilton speeding to victory to secure the World Drivers’ Championship title.

      “The atmosphere was unbelievable when we won,” recalls Chelsea, who watched the constructors’ title race at work with her colleagues at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains.

      “The next day, the whole office celebrated with a champagne breakfast and a visit from the drivers, Lewis and Valtteri Bottas, and Team Principal Toto Wolff, who turned up to thank everybody and take a team photo with us. It was a really humbling experience to be a part of.”

      Aside from the opportunity to work on projects that enable students to put their degree skills to the test in a practical way, Chelsea believes that the contacts you make during a year in industry are invaluable. She encourages others to take full advantage of the University’s flexible approach to placement years.

      It’s been a dream of mine to work for Mercedes for a long time. Initially when I started the placement, I was worried that the reality wouldn’t live up to my expectations… but it’s everything I expected and more.

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