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Tuesday 10 March 2009 Postgraduate

Kirsty Allan studied a Masters degree in Mechanical Design Engineering at the University of Glasgow before embarking upon a second Masters in Motorsport Engineering at Cranfield University. She is now a Composites R&D Project Engineer at Williams F1.

I have been an avid fan of Formula 1 for many years and have always been fascinated with the technology and mentality of the sport and of the motorsport industry in general. 

Upon discovering the Masters course and then undertaking work experience with Legends Racing in 2006, I realised that motorsport was the way in which I wanted to go.

Therefore, I chose to undertake the Motorsport MSc straight after my first degree as a stepping stone to helping me achieve this.

On the course

Out of the eight modules I enjoyed the Composite Structures for Motorsport module the most. I have always been passionate about composite materials and did my undergraduate thesis on composite manufacturing techniques.

This module incorporated a large amount of practical work in the making of a generic sports car wing. 

The group project and the individual thesis project were also enjoyable if a tad challenging but time management and team work were the key.

The different personalities made working together as a group quite difficult but it was important that we learned to trust each other and to build good working relationships.

Throughout the numerous group projects, I improved my team work and communication skills. I had to work calmly and efficiently under pressure and therefore developed very good time and resource management skills.

The course also gave me knowledge of different aspects of motorsport engineering and this deep appreciation of the complexity of such a vehicle stood me in good stead when joining Williams F1 later that year.

In the driving seat

I was awarded a bursary from Williams F1 and so carried out my thesis project with them. I really enjoyed my thesis project as it was involved with composite materials and incorporated many different aspects of engineering including design, manufacture and testing.

I was fortunate enough to be based in their headquarters in Grove and I feel this was very beneficial in helping me gain full-time employment.

I am basically a link between the Design Office and the Composites R&D department. I manage R&D projects and am involved in all aspects of the work from the manufacture of specimens and the design of the testing equipment to the actual tests themselves. 

The best part of my job is that I get to be involved in both the R&D and the design side of engineering. This brings a great deal of diversity to my role and ensures that everyday presents me with a different challenge, which I relish.

One of the most exciting parts of my job is when I make an R&D breakthrough and can come to a definite conclusion. Knowing that I have made a worthwhile contribution to the company and the development of our F1 car is the best feeling I could ask for in my job.