Student Lounge

Sharing technical and real-life examples of how students can use MATLAB and Simulink in their everyday projects #studentsuccess

Where Are They Now? – Graham Iles, Mercedes AMG HPP

Today we’re talking to Graham Iles, Systems Engineering Team Leader at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. He recently joined us at Formula Student UK, a competition he also took part in as a student.

What Did You Learn in the competition?


Why did you chose to get involved the competiton?

Bath University structures their degree such that Automotive Engineering students have the opportunity to compete in Formula Student and have their R&D contribute to their dissertation. This was an opportunity I did not want to miss for many reasons as I was aware of the potential practical experience FS could give me, and also relished the chance to test my fresh Engineering skills in a competitive, team oriented environment.

What was your role on the team?

“Powertrain Manager”

How did you use MATLAB/ Simulink in the competition and/or academic work?

MATLAB/ Simulink formed part of the 3rd and 4th year units, with various simulation and control design problems used as studies to develop learning. A lap simulation for Formula Student suspension design was generated in Excel(!) something that with hindsight would have been much better suited to MATLAB.

How Did the Competition Help You Find a Job?

Specifically for my role history at HPP, Simulink knowledge coming out of University has also been very beneficial as I have regularly interacted with large Software models developed using this platform.

Do you think the skills you gained using these tools has helped you in your professional career? If so, how?

Undoubtedly. General literacy in MATLAB is a great enabler for being faster at analysis and data processing. There is a saying at HPP, that “Excel is the second best tool for everything.” i.e. Excel is used frequently for tasks due to literacy level in the general population, but it cannot give you an aswer as accurately / scaleably / represented as well as in MATLAB. If you can pick up and use MATLAB like most people can a spreadsheet then you are one step ahead!
Specifically for my role history at HPP, Simulink knowledge coming out of University has also been very beneficial as I have regularly interacted with large Software models developed using this platform.

Did your hands-on experience of in the competiton help to prepare you for your first role in industry?

When I competed in 2012 it was already quite commonplace for applicants to automotive graduate schemes to have been involved with Formula Student. This seems even more the case in recent years, sitting on the opposite side of the interview table. Therefore the differentiating factor on your CV is no longer that you were involved in the competition, but what skills and personal development you gained along the way. As well as the obvious project and people management skills, employers are looking for evidence that candidates have understood the important factors in succeeding in the competition and have personally contributed to translating these into specific technical requirements which they have then fulfilled via their design. I can honestly say undertaking this “top-down” approach during my involvement in Formula Student has given me the tools in industry to understand what’s important when tackling technical issues etc.

What Are You Working On Today?

In your current role at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains do you use MATLAB/Simulink?

I am now a Team Leader, so unfortunately my use of MATLAB has dropped, and my use of Powerpoint and Gantt charts has increased. This being said, MATLAB is usually open on my PC and those reporting to me are using MATLAB or Simulink every day in their roles.

What big project you are working on right now?

Apply for our graduate schemes to find out! The Advanced Technologies part of HPP has developed the Project One hyper car powertrain, the battery and BMS for the Mercedes EQXX (>1000km from a 100kWh battery), and are now working with Mercedes and AMG on a variety of new cutting edge technology development programmes.

Key Takeaways

What advice would you give young engineers seeking employment post-grad?

Regarding interviews: Don’t do last minute cramming of information about the company’s history etc before an interview. Get comfortable with the fact that you cannot add anything to your relevant experience whilst sat in a waiting area. Understand you will never know everything in a technical interview (almost by definition) and you can only do your best. You should worry about controlling only the controllables – your attitude, how to represent yourself, how you engage the interviewer and how to do yourself justice.

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