Peter Brice (Class of 2002), Head of Simulation Projects, McLaren Racing
How did CLS get you ready for the world of work?
The thing that sticks out for me about my education at CLS is that I was given the opportunity and confidence to stretch myself without it feeling like an overly pushy environment. Two contrasting examples of this were being able to do three maths A-levels (as well as Russian and Physics), which gave me a real head-start in my engineering degree and having the chance to produce and co-direct "The Real Inspector Hound" in the school theatre, which was a great early experience of management and leadership.
What was your first job?
In my pre-university gap year, I did a year's placement in Arup's geotechnical engineering department. I spent most of the year working on desk studies of embankments and cuttings on the Metropolitan line, which involved site surveys, looking at old aerial photos and other research. The job was a great introduction to professional engineering and I would encourage anyone pursuing an engineering career seek out similar placements. However, it probably ultimately helped to steer me away from civil engineering towards mechanical.
Your biggest professional achievement?
For the past few years I have been running a project to deliver a state-of-the-art new driving simulator for McLaren Racing. I was very proud when a patent for the simulator concept was published in my name. However, I am hoping that this achievement will soon be surpassed when we complete the first successful running in the new simulator.
Your most challenging professional moment?
A few years ago, I had persuaded McLaren to spend a lot of money on research at a big facility in the US. I had written a detailed test programme but it became apparent early in the testing that despite its advertised specifications, the rig wouldn't be able to achieve what we were asking of it. I had to think quickly to come up with a revised test plan that respected the actual limits of the machine while still giving the answers we needed. In the end we came away with really valuable results but there were some tense moments!
What inspires and motivates you at work?
The most motivating thing about working for McLaren Racing is the extraordinary team spirit that comes from everyone working towards a simple common goal. We are at the start of a new season and the whole company has been working hard in different ways to support the launch of the new cars and sharing the excitement and nerves at seeing how our performance will compare with our rivals. Our win in Monza last year - the first for nine years - was a great moment.
One piece of advice for pupils and other Old Citizens about getting into your profession?
Engineering is a very broad profession and even in Formula 1, there is a huge diversity of technical jobs: compare the work of an aerodynamicist to that of a control specialist or race engineer. Before selecting a degree or specialism, it is a good idea to learn as much as you can about what different types of engineer actually do so you can make the right educational choices.