This evening’s lecture at the IET was given by Chris Aylett of the Motorsport Industry Association. Chris gave a fast-paced overview of the work of motorsport engineers within their own industry and the increasing crossover into other sectors. He is a fan of horizontal innovation, the application of under-used skills and capacity within a firm to satisfy demand from clients in other industries.
This is particularly appropriate for the world-class unique capabilities of R&D-based motorsport suppliers in the UK who are able to resolve disparate engineering problems, and do so very quickly.
Particular examples were given by speakers from Wirth Research, Prodrive and Lentus Composites. The latter were responsible for the design of the Team GB track bikes which did rather well at the Rio Olympics – having been developed in just 13 months.
There was also plenty to reference from the inspirational life story of Sir Henry Royce. Despite having only one year of formal schooling, he became an apprentice engineer and ultimately started his own business making cranes. Not only did he expand into making motor cars and design the first aero-engine to fly over 400mph (which was developed into the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin engine in WWII Spitfires) – he also designed the bayonet lightbulb.