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Thread: Brad Keselowski says US not producing enough quality race engineers

  1. #1
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    Brad Keselowski says US not producing enough quality race engineers

    This forum has been quiet the last couple of days, here's an article that might be interesting to discuss?
    http://www.autoweek.com/article/2014...AR01/140619897
    http://www.autoweek.com/ article/ 20140613/ NASCAR01/ 140619897
    Maybe Bad Brad should be invited to some FSAE/FS events?

  2. #2
    There's some truth to what he says, though the way he says it and how it comes across... isn't great.

    And FSAE/FS events are rife with engineers already starting to indoctrinate themselves in poor professional practices. A handful go into pro motorsport and do a really great job of it. Others are so-so, and others yet just are not a good fit for the pro scene and get let go pretty quickly.

    Speaking of best practices, reading into anything any racecar driver says is definitely not one of them. But.. it's an interesting point of discussion.

  3. #3
    As Matt Brown says in his book, 'So I got my dream job in motorsports, but soon found out that professional motorsports is more about personalities than the car.' Granted that is just one opinion and I have no knowledge of how good an engineer Matt Brown is or isn't, but I would agree with his assessment particularly concerning the NASCAR business model and 'silly' rules laden environment.

    So, is it lack of quality American engineering talent or are there just more challenging engineering jobs elsewhere, including other forms of motorsports, than the NASCAR circus?
    Last edited by rwstevens59; 06-15-2014 at 10:46 AM.

  4. #4
    exFSAE,
    Could you elaborate more on why "others yet just are not a good fit for the pro scene and get let go pretty quickly". Is it due to them not having the intellectual ability or possibly a lack of passion for the profession - i.e. maybe it ends up being more work than they are willing to put in to become successful, or some other reason.
    Fitz Matush
    Auto Seat Tester

  5. #5
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    translation: penske isn't paying enough to attract the quality of engineers they want to employ.

    there are plenty of good engineers being produced in the US, they just don't want to work 100+ hour weeks for a modest salary.
    Last edited by Marshall Grice; 06-15-2014 at 12:47 PM.
    '01-'06 Cal Poly Pomona

  6. #6
    Would you rather work for a NASCAR team or Tesla? The working environment and incoming requirements are similar, but one of them develops hardware that changes the future of automobiles, the other refines hardware that burns Sunoco in front of 100,000 screaming rednecks.
    Charles Kaneb
    Magna International
    FSAE Lincoln Design Judge - Frame/Body/Link judging area. Not a professional vehicle dynamicist.

  7. #7
    Let's take a second real quick and zoom out beyond racing and FSAE and all this crap. Truth is in general, there are quite a few engineers graduating every semester with few marketable skills. Industry needs people who can contribute as early as possible, which means you really need to have some professional experience. (Preferably more than just FSAE) So it's true that it's not always easy to find great engineers for any role straight out of college.

    Those who do FSAE and then even attempt a pro racing career is an extremely small percentage of any undergrad body. Then to get to a championship level Cup team it's going to take some weeding out and vetting of those guys to find those who fit. So absolutely it is difficult finding guys you can plug in at the Cup / championship level. Where Brad is completely off base is in thinking it's some US vs. Canadian vs. European thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by slicktop View Post
    exFSAE,
    Could you elaborate more on why "others yet just are not a good fit for the pro scene and get let go pretty quickly". Is it due to them not having the intellectual ability or possibly a lack of passion for the profession - i.e. maybe it ends up being more work than they are willing to put in to become successful, or some other reason.
    "Some other reason." Here's lesson #1 for graduating from FSAE and going into pro racing:



    Sadly there are those who don't get that. Need to leave most or all your "Formula experience" behind, come in with an open mind and learn. There's a lot of new stuff to be learned (particularly transitioning to stock cars), and there's plenty of misinformation and bad practice to unlearn from the college days. Isn't there some quote about illusion of knowledge being worse than ignorance? It's true!

    Those who come in ready and eager to learn and absorb as much as they can do well. Those who still talk about Formula stuff at a pro race shop.. eh, is pretty much cringe and eye-roll material. And in some (admittedly I think rare) cases some guys are just too.. arrogant? cocky? foolish? to admit they don't know everything, unlearn old junk, take constructive criticism and direction for good professional practice. Those wind up being a really poor fit which don't work out.
    Last edited by exFSAE; 06-15-2014 at 11:59 PM. Reason: for brevity

  8. #8
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    I've kept up with Penske's job postings and they have been looking for Aero Design/Design Engineers for at least a year. Honestly they probably just aren't offering enough pay for anyone worthwhile to want to work there. And from what I've seen design engineers are making less money than say a vehicle dynamics engineer. Teams need to realize they are also competing against a whole lot of other engineering jobs out there, but rarely do you see teams sponsoring/being involved in FSAE in a large enough way that team members feel like they have a chance at being on a race team. Stories of FSAE people getting hired usually involves them knowing the right people at the right time, and while I recommend everyone to network if they want to work in racing, some team members never get the opportunity or understand that until it's too late.

    TL;DR: It would be nice to see more professional team support for events like FSAE.
    Trent Strunk
    University of Kansas
    Jayhawk Motorsports
    2010-2014

    Now in NASCAR land. Boogity.
    Opinions Are My Own

  9. #9
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    Maybe the US potential race engineer pool (talented, personable ex-FSAE participants) doesn't want to pay the race tax because they have other dreams/goals/responsibilities that require some level of financial stability. My sister just graduated with a bachelor's in nursing and her starting salary her new full-time job puts NASCAR team BSME starting pay (small sample size) to shame by ~$10k/yr. Nurses haven't proven that they can design/build a racecar AND pass differential equations at the same time.

    Have we networked too closely with pro racing to the point that it loses some of its luster when we see the long hours, travel, low pay, lack of company stability, etc? The same is true for what we know about the life of Tesla and Space-X engineers through our networking opportunities. Co-opping in the passenger car industry was telling for me and I now find myself happily employed elsewhere.

    Are they looking for job seekers holding masters degrees in motorsports? There are far fewer schools offering motorsports masters programs in the US than in Europe.
    -----------------------------------
    Matt Birt
    Engine Calibration and Performance Engineer, Enovation Controls
    Former Powertrain Lead, Kettering University CSC/FSAE team
    1st place Fuel Efficiency 2013 FSAE, FSAE West, Formula North
    1st place overall 2014 Clean Snowmobile Challenge

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by exFSAE View Post
    Let's take a second real quick and zoom out beyond racing and FSAE and all this crap. Truth is in general, there are quite a few engineers graduating every semester with few marketable skills. Industry needs people who can contribute as early as possible, which means you really need to have some professional experience. (Preferably more than just FSAE) So it's true that it's not always easy to find great engineers for any role straight out of college.
    Exactly, this is the problem.
    Billy Wight
    University of California, San Diego - Formula SAE 2004-2006

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