National Motorsport Academy

Student Spotlight: Riyaz Kassam

As many of our students have already mentioned, it really is possible to study for an online motorsport engineering degree from anywhere. The NMA has students in nearly 50 countries and although not always practical, we love it when students come to visit NMA HQ here in the UK.

Meet Riyaz Kassam. Riyaz is from Canada, a country perhaps better known for Mounties than motorsport (not of course forgetting the Villeneuve and Stroll families). Riyaz has had a passion for motorsport since the age of 5 and identified quite early on that opportunities for a motorsport education could be limited in his home country. Watch the video to hear more about Riyaz’s time studying with the NMA and why he chose to specialise in Aerodynamics or scroll down for more.

How big is motorsport back home in Canada?

The F1 race in Montreal and the Toronto Honda Indy are the two biggest motorsport events that we have. Certain brands like Ferrari and Porsche will host track events for car owners and for testing but there are always more hobbyists at the two local tracks in Toronto.

In Canada, motorsport is a very niche job, whereas in Europe, US and UK there are more opportunities. I have taken my car to the Cayuga racetrack for some open lapping events, unfortunately nothing on a professional motorsport platform. I have also participated in small autocross events back home.

I’m hoping that studying my motorsport engineering degree with the NMA will help me to get a job with a large motorsport team outside of Canada where there are more opportunities.

What have been the biggest challenges studying online?

Biggest challenges are finding motorsport relevant activities to gain experience, especially during the “Work Experience” module. The biggest challenge is having to learn many different software packages too. It’s a big learning curve and there is a lot to learn because they all do different things. It’s also satisfying because they are all industry-relevant software packages so it’s also fun at the same time as challenging. 

What's been your favourite part of the course so far?

My favourite module so far is Module 7 – Vehicle Dynamics & Data Acquisition. I liked this the most because I found data logging to be very interesting. I very much enjoyed using MoTeC to look at all the logged charts and analyzing the lap data to make new car improvements based on the data. This module made me feel like a 10 year old again where I used to love seeing every bit of the F1 pitlane engineers looking at the same type of data charts.

How have you found communicating with your tutors as an international student?

Communication with my tutors has been extremely easy. Any time I have a question I submit through the VLS system, I receive a reply within a day. I don’t usually have to worry about time zone differences unless I’m booking a live call session, which can still easily be organized. Getting any sort of assistance from any professor is really easy and they are all very supportive and helpful. Tutors also care about your personal wellbeing which is very appreciated and not often found in post secondary institutes.

In our interview, you mention your own Honda. What model is it and what mods have you made?

I drive a 2005 Honda Integra DC5 (In Canada known as an Acura RSX Type S). I worked at a fast food joint in high school to save money and bought it as soon as I was allowed to get a drivers license. From there I started modifying it, which I have a large list of modifications and will highlight some of the main components. Full list available upon request:

    • Engine Swapped from original Honda K20 motor to the K24 motor. The engine has more torque and displacement
    • Larger intake manifold, fuel injectors and throttle body paired to a cold air intake
    • Larger exhaust system
    • Stage 1 racing clutch and aluminium shifter box.
    • Hondata ECU management
    • Coilovers, larger sway bars, strut bars and various chassis braces to stiffen the vehicle
    • Racing bucket seats and harnesses
    • Aerodynamic package (Rear diffuser, front splitter)
    • Big brake kit and brake lines

An International Industry

Motorsport is a global industry, but the UK has long been at the forefront of motorsport education. Our online motorsport engineering degrees have been designed to make motorsport education more accessible no matter where you live.

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