Motorsport engineering student, Martin Pankratov, develops a new drivetrain model during his placement at McLaren that is now in use within the industry.
During his time at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) studying on the BEng (Hons) Motorsports Engineering, Martin successfully secured a 12-month placement year at McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT). Working within the Systems Engineering team, his role focused on developing and improving the powertrain simulation toolset in use at McLaren.
His placement was split into two parts. The first focused on developing an electric vehicle model to assess different powertrain performances and efficiencies using Simulink. In the second part, he added and refined features to an existing MATLAB-based model to evaluate the electric power train's energy loss and efficiency with a specific focus on the high-fidelity inverter model. On the back of the latter, Martin's newly refined model is now in use by McLaren – an incredible achievement. Martin developed a deeper understanding of electric powertrain modelling techniques and benefited from training with McLaren's industry-standard software.
"My placement year has enabled me to better understand the career path ahead and overall was invaluable. The experience gained will certainly help me during the remainder of my course and beyond."— Martin talking about his placement at McLaren
He believes that his placement will be a catalyst for his career advancement. When asked to summarise his placement at McLaren, Martin said:
"The experience that I have gathered at McLaren is invaluable in terms of seeing and being involved in the exact processes, operation techniques and team structures that keep McLaren at the cutting edge.
Martin first developed an interest in motorsport whilst at high school in Estonia and chose to study at UCLan as he was impressed with the facilities and professional workshops that were available to him, saying they were "everything a young engineer would ever need. 10/10 for facilities". Martin has access to the new multi-million-pound Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC), alongside many other campus facilities.
A further attraction was the opportunities offered to students alongside their course. He got involved with the professional student racing team, which gives first-year students an exciting insight into a Formula Ford series team. Martin entered the project inexperienced; nevertheless, he gained insight into how a single-seater race car is maintained and how a successful championship team operates. Although he found the task challenging at times, upon reflection, Martin can look back with a smile on his face because of the fun he had with his course mates. He also had involvement in other smaller student-run projects including the Driver Simulation Project and Rocket Car Challenge. Martin praised the University's teaching, particularly highlighting the excellent facilities accompanied by knowledgeable technicians and lecturers.
When asked if he had any tips for prospective students, Martin said: "If racing and motorsport is your interest, then this course is the one."