The Motorsport Student: FE to HE Transition


The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s School of Engineering has hosted an inaugural conference entitled The Motorsport Student: FE to HE Transition.

Speakers and students in workshop

The conference was an opportunity for tutors and educators to discuss the career pathway of motorsport engineering students as they progress from FE colleges to HE institutions. Delegates have come from all over the UK to attend the conference which is being held on the university’s Swansea campus.

Roger Dowden, Director of Motorsport at UWTSD’s School of Engineering said: "We have been delighted with the response from our colleagues from   Further Education, from representatives of the motorsport and automotive industries who came from across Wales and England to attend this event. This was very much a learning event for us.  At the end of the conference  we  believe we are now in a in a positon to develop techniques and approaches to learning which will enable us to  work with our colleagues in  the FE colleges to  better encourage and support students on vocational courses in to progress onto  a wide range of high level motorsport engineering  programmes at UWTSD."  

Before the conference, the delegates were given a tour of the university’s SA1 Swansea Waterfront development, which will be home to the School of Engineering this coming academic year.

The keynote speech was presented by Shaun Clayton, who is the Head of HR for Prodrive, a British motorsport and advanced engineering group that constructs and races cars for companies and teams such as Aston Martin, Mini, and Volkswagen. His talk was entitled Future Engineers at Prodrive, and he discussed some of the challenges and opportunities presented by the rapidly changing environment of motorsport engineering. After the conference he said

“UWTSD has a track record in supplying Prodrive with graduates that are well-rounded, practical, hands-on engineers with a passion for motorsport.  They are one of our ‘go-to’ universities because their students really understand what motorsport is.  This initiative is likely to bring a broader pipeline of potential talent into the university who might be Prodrive graduates of the future so we are happy to have contributed.”

Also speaking was John Paul Latham, a college lecturer and the founder of, an online motorsport community for young people, students, graduates, educators, institutions, professionals and organisations that supports people looking to take their first step into the motorsport industry He said: “As well as showcasing my website I’m representing the College of West Anglia in the discussion about FE to HE transition and some of the problems we’re facing there. There are lots of people doing great things but we need to work together to make it achievable for our students."

Speaker in Cadogan Centre

Highlighting the potential for making a successful transition delegates also heard a series of presentations from graduates who have gone on to develop careers in engineering after progressing from vocational courses at FE colleges into HND and then degrees programmes  in Motorsport or Automotive Engineering at UWTSD

Harley Gasson graduated with a BEng in Motorsport Engineering. He is now a Senior Powertrain Design Engineer at McLaren Automotive, where he works with theV8 engines that power McLaren Automotive’s range of vehicles. He said: "It has been good to come back and see what the race teams are doing. I have spoken to two students who said they came here because of a talk I did for UWTSD at my first college. It's good to know that my input to this sort of event can inspire the next group of engineers. The best thing about the courses at UWTSD is actually getting the practical experience, I would recommend students get involved with one of the university’s race teams as much as possible."

Dr Justin Mordern graduated with the BEng in Motorsport Engineering from UWTSD. He went on to complete aPhD in the aerodynamics ofhigh speed passenger trains. He now works for SMTC-UK, the UK Engineering Technical Centre for SAIC Motor Technical Centre where he is involved in engineering, research, design, and development programmes of new MG and Roewe products for Global markets. He said: "I always love a chance to talk about my education and how well UWTSD educated me. SAIC were keen to ask me about the university when I returned to work and I spent some time telling them about the ways in which UWTSD work closely with other key companies such as McLaren. It would be nice to see SAIC build a similar relationship with the university."

James Seabright, overcoming many hurdles in his educational journey achieved his BSc at UWTSD. He is now an Engine Air Systems Technical Specialist with Cummins UK Turbo Technologies. He said: "Thank you for the opportunity to come back and talk to the students, I really enjoyed it. It was nice seeing the new SA1 development and I hope my contribution was of some use to current students."

After graduating with the BEng in Automotive Engineering Ross Pollard is now a Thermodyamics Engineer with Mahle Powertrain Ltd in Northampton and is responsible for engine combustion analysis for this major engine component supplier for the automotive industry. He said: "It was nice to come back and see how things are changing and catch up with everyone. It was also nice to have the chance to talk about how I progressed through education to get where I am now. Maybe next time I could go into a bit more detail into what I actually do at Mahle."

All admitted that they had no idea when they first embarked on their original FE vocational courses that they could go so far in the industry.

Delegates on SA1 Tour

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