National Motorsport Academy

Student Experiences: Michael Skinner

Student Experiences: Michael Skinner

Meet BSc (Hons) Motorsport Engineering student Michael Skinner! Michael has always been a massive fan of motorsport, particularly favouring endurance racing. He first found his way into working in motorsport during his secondary school years, working as a shop intern for an American Le Mans series team. Now, Michael is the co-driver with the same team in the World Racing League (WRL) Series! We were able to have a chat with him about what his current life is looking like.

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am currently on Module 9b: Aerodynamics. I work as an IT software sales engineer and have been in IT for almost 20 years now, but I’ve been involved with motorsport for even longer than that. I’ve been a sportscar and endurance racing fan my whole life, with my first foray into the motorsport world working as a shop intern during my high school years for an American Le Mans series team campaigning a Ferrari 333sp prototype. The racing family that took me in then ended up racing in IMSA and SRO years later, and I’ve been a crew member performing wrenching and data duties. I now co-drive with them in the World Racing League (WRL) series, and drive at track days with the little spare time I can fit in. Suffice to say, the passion hasn’t left a bit!

What course are you studying & what module are you currently on?

I am currently studying for the BSc (Hons) Motorsport Engineering programme. As of now, I am on Module 9b: Aerodynamics

How did you find out about NMA? What made you choose it?

I’d say your advertisements in Racecar Engineering magazine did their job. 😉 I finally met some staff back in 2017 during the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show, and I’ve kept the flyer at my desk to serve as a reminder to chase my dream to become a race engineer.  I finally took the leap in 2021, and now I’m in my final year studies.

How has your time with the NMA been so far?

Honestly, it’s been challenging time due to the demanding day job and self-discipline required to learn and stay on top of the module’s tasks while being thousands of miles away from the academy. The challenge has been rewarding however, and there’s no shortage of learning in any area of motorsport engineering. Even if you’ve been in motorsport for decades! Hopefully I can apply these lessons with the NMA team for a race weekend. It’d be great to meet my peers and tutors.

What's been your favourite module so far? Any you are looking forward to completing?

Definitely module 7, Vehicle Dynamics & Data Acquisition! I’ve always loved interpreting data from the race cars I’ve worked with, and it was a fun exercise to put that experience to use while learning new tricks. The module I’m looking forward to completing is the current one I’m in, as racecar aerodynamics is a fascinating subject.

Tell us more about your weekend in Daytona? How did that come about?

For the past ten years or so the boys and I rent an RV and stay in the infield to attend the 24 Hours of Daytona. It’s a proper fun way to kick off the racing season with plenty of whiskey consumption, but more importantly up-close access in the garages to see the newest trends in racecar design from TCR cars to the GTP/LMDh prototypes. This access allowed me to see aero components to gain inspiration for my own designs as part of my module 9b aerodynamics project.

How have you found the tutor support?

The tutors have been great to work with, as each of them have their own domain specific expertise. They’re quick to respond despite being on a different continent and always willing to help when I get stuck

What have you learned from this project so far?

In regards to aerodynamics, time is the most precious commodity! One gains a true appreciation of the engineering efforts with design and flow testing aerodynamic components under a tight timeline.

A big thank you to Michael for speaking to us! You can keep up to date with his career over on LinkedIn – Michael Skinner

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