A day in the life of Elizabeth Apthorp

A day in the life of Elizabeth Apthorp
Composite Design Engineer, Renault F1 Team

What’s your job responsibility?
My role as a Composite Design Engineer is to essentially design parts that go onto the racing car. I specifically focus on a carbon fibre components such as the wing mirrors and driver seats.

What does that involve, what do you do, who do you work with?
I work mostly with the Chassis department. Day to day though, I’ll chat with a variety of different teams and groups, such as; production, stress analysis, aerodynamicists.

Describe a typical day in your job?
We have a daily debrief to look back at what happened the day before and what’s ahead. After this, I’ll spend time at my desk doing 3D modelling, but we have to make sure we’re collaborating with all of the other teams. The time I spend doing this can vary by project though, with some concepts that take a few days to complete and others that can be months in the making.

How did you get the job?
I studied a General Engineering degree at University, so across mechanical, electronics and civil subjects. I then specialised in material and design, alongside achieving a Master’s in Advanced Motorsport Engineering, but I still wasn’t certain in what I wanted to do at that point. I always enjoyed watching F1 and one day one of my friends asked me why I haven’t tried to work in the industry, and that was the spark for me to apply for the job.

Why did you take this job?
I enjoy a challenge and every day is a challenge here, in a good way. I love the competitiveness and it’s nice to work in a company where everyone has the same end goal.

What is your most memorable moment…
When I helped design the first chassis for the 2018 season. We spent months designing and building it, and someone from the FIA was there with a clipboard to sign it off. It was a very satisfying project.

And the worst part of your job…?
The occasional weekend working, but I wouldn’t come in if I didn’t want to do the work and ultimately help make the car better on track.

The best part of your job then…
I like talking to a variety of people. I think there is a stigma attached to an engineering job that we don’t speak to anyone, but I love that aspect of the job and it’s very important in my role.

If you weren’t doing this job what would you be doing?
I would want to do a job that was fast paced and high pressured like this one! But I am very happy where I am so hopefully I’ll stay in this industry longer.

What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I find exercising is good in helping me relax and I have a passion for food. I love to spend time with friends eating and relaxing.

With lots of travel in your job, how do you deal with that?
As a designer we don’t tend to travel to the races, but I’ve been lucky to go to a few. It’s a very eye-opening experience, as often you can get bogged down with such minor details at the factory, but at the track you realise so many things are happening. It’s good to go to the track as you can see the glamorous side of it too.

Do you have any tips/advice for those wanting to work in the industry?
Do it! It’s the best thing I did. There’s no hiding that it’s hard work, but if you want to put the work in you can make it happen.