Forging a career in aerodynamics is a true calling. Some people pick up the science right away and thrive in an R&D environment, others are more mechanically minded and prefer the pressure of a race weekend. Whatever the job function, if you’re looking to work in motorsport you’ll have to have an appreciation of the principles of aerodynamics.
About the Job Role:
Aerodynamics jobs are not as few and far between as you’d think and there are a range of different roles available. But nowadays it’s not just about manipulating airflow to improve lap times. Each season, the job of the aerodynamicist gets more difficult as rules are changed across motorsport to ‘level the playing field’ and make racing more competitive. Over the years, many teams have had an aerodynamic advantage which has seem them smash the competition and governing bodies are all too aware that fans get more about of the sport when racing is close. The job of an aerodynamicist means working within the rules but thinking outside of the box.
You’ll have an interest and good understanding of the scientific principles of aerodynamics and how the four factors (weight, lift, drag and thrust) are affected by using different materials and shapes to change the flow of air around a vehicle. Wind tunnels are now commonly used to simulate the airflow found on a racetrack and specialist software helps to model the effects of lift and drag depending on the surface shape you’re working with.
Example job positions: Model Maker, Design Engineer – Aerodynamics, Engineer – Aerodynamics, Senior Aerodynamicist
About the Person:
The best aerodynamicists are half creative, half scientific. You’ll need to be hands-on and confident using complex software packages. You’ll work mostly with conceptual designs; testing ideas and concepts which push the boundaries of vehicle design whilst considering homologation and regulations at every step. You’ll be excellent at communicating ideas as well as at presenting evidence-based analysis to other team members and departments.
It also helps to have a good grounding in CNC machining and assembly. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is another field which is critical in the understanding and development of aerodynamics. As it that of composites engineering.
You’ll need a BSc or BEng to be considered for most aerodynamics jobs and you can expect to earn an excellent salary between £28,000 and £65,000 depending on the level of the position.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Try our quick aerodynamics quiz and show off your skills!
About the Tech:
Simulation software has made the job of the aerodynamicist far easier. Module 3 of the BSc Motorsport Engineering deals with R&D Simulation and Analysis which covers CFD, Finite Element Analysis and vehicle dynamic modelling. Using the latest industry software you’ll learn to design, analyse and validate appropriate models and components which are essential to your continued learning.