HPP Placement: Closing Notes

HPP Placement: Closing Notes

As of 09/09/22, my placement at Mercedes-AMG HPP came to an end. With just over 12 months, I gained indispensable engineering skills that I will be able to apply in university projects and my future career path. The placement was a very successful experience for my personal development as a professional mechanical engineer. Not only have I learned the invaluable technical “hard skills” (particularly in the domains of fault containments, engineering design methodology, material choices and geometrical tolerancing), but also the important “soft skills” (e.g. how to guide a meeting, communicating in a rapid and clear manner, time & priority management).

Working in Formula 1 was also a personal goal of mine and this placement provided me with the perfect experience. The placement exceeded my expectations and confirmed that HPP is a perfect example of an industry I see myself working in in the future.

My role in Mercedes-AMG HPP:

My year in industry was a 12-month placement in Mechanical Engineering for the current F1 programme. In particular, my scope of work was the most relevant for the 2022 Formula 1 powerunits. The 12-month placement was split into two 6-month rotations:

Rotation 1 (6-months): Mechanical Engineering
For my first rotation, I worked for the Head of Mechanical Engineering (Michael Harre) and the PU Concept Team Leader (Dan Jones). My role in the current F1 programme consisted of 3-major parts:

  1. Solving mechanical engineering faults and process-engineering faults. I was reporting on the progression on these faults in the company widespread weekly Faults meeting.
  2. Supporting urgent, short-term projects across multiple teams (Gas exchange, Oil & Water systems, Top-End dynamics, Integration teams in the current F1 programme).
  3. Mass-tracking of the 2022 powerunits. On multiple instances, I had to physically weigh the powertrains or individual components to ensure the powerunits were not overweight and the measured mass corresponded to the theoretical mass. This also allowed me to see multiple parts of the business (Mechanical Engineering, Procurement and Planning, Engine Build, Stores).

Rotation 2 (6-months): Bottom-End / Structural Team
After 6-months, I changed to working in one team only (Structural – Bottom-End Dynamics) led by Doug Hayford in the current F1 Programme. This team is responsible for developing and solving mechanical faults relating to the crankcase, heads, front cover, crankshaft, pistons etc. My specific role involved

  1. Designing, releasing new parts for the 2022 and 2023 Powerunits. This involved communicating with engine build, procurement and planning, materials engineering to ensure the new parts are able to assemble, can be delivered on time and are able to withstand the stresses, temperatures subjected to the body.
  2. Containing severe mechanical faults.
  3. Communicating with Trackside engineering for urgent trackside requests and troubleshooting urgent and severe engineering faults.
  4. Writing FiA Change Request Documents to be sent to the FiA.
  5. Carrying out build trials.
  6. In addition, I have been asked on multiple instances to support the development of the 2026 Powerunit for the upcoming major technical regulation change.

Broader Concepts Learnt

“Right time first” mindset – In a high-pressure, dynamic environment, the deadlines are extremely short which can lead to “rapid engineering errors”. If a fault containment will prove itself insufficient, the containment will have to be revisited by engineering, leading to longer time delays. Therefore, it is important to design and implement a change “right time first”. A design or a process change must be proven-out with sufficient confidence to ensure that a problem (it aims to solve) will not occur again and that this containment will not have to be revisited in the future.

Fault containments and fault system – A mechanical fault containment is not necessarily a design change of the mechanical hardware. Faults must be contained on multiple levels to ensure immediate, short-term and long-term fixes and must be implemented within the available resources. It is important to have a faults system in place that allows a fault to be flagged, ordered based on its severity, assigned to the responsible person or department and its containment progress tracked.

Detailed prove-out process – Prior to official release and implementation of a specific part or a change, the prove-out process must ensure a high level of confidence. This is to make sure the change will perform as desired and to detect unforeseen early-life failures. A balance must be struck between gaining sufficient confidence, but not doing any unnecessary actions for time and resource-saving purposes

Detailed product design process – A well-defined product design process forces the engineer to verify all the details about a new part or a new process change. This includes, but are on limited to: mass delta, structural rigidity, manufacture-ability, assembly, cost. In addition, the concept of the product must be well justified and the approximate performance

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