The engineer seeking summer perspective

Lin Bowker-Lonnecker, an engineering student from st john’s college, discusses her work with Cambridge University Eco Racing, AFRINSPIRE, AND FUTURE CAREER PLANS


Name: Lin Bowker-Lonnecker

Degree course: Mfg Engineering Tripos

College: St John’s

I have just finished my third year in Cambridge, and in the previous two years I worked during the summer.

After my first year, I did a 6-week lean manufacturing summer internship with BMW in Oxford and Regensburg, Germany, after already having done work experience with them in the UK as well as Munich, Germany two years before. Later in the summer I was also a student ambassador in the 2017 ICTP materials conference, which was held at the engineering department. My roles included interacting with delegates and being a room manager during presentation sessions.

After the end of my second year, I was part of the Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) Summer Design Team, taking on the role of Chassis Structure. I have been involved in the society since the start of my second year and the beginning of the design cycle. During the summer, I designed the chassis and tested it using computer simulations.

This summer I will be going to Uganda and Australia.

Firstly I will be going to Uganda with the charity Afrinspire for 3 weeks. The main aims are to see grass roots development projects in Uganda and ensure they are doing well. I will be working on data collection, completing monitoring and evaluating surveys, performing impact assessments and helping to facilitate the Afrinspire Young Entrepreneurs Conference.

After that I start an 8 week internship with the medical devices start-up Arete. My main role will be mechanical R&D and design, but I will also be working on process design and the quality systems.

This will be followed by going to Australia for 6 weeks, competing in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge with the CUER car after thorough testing before the race. I will be working in the technical support crew, and I have also applied to drive the car for the race.

I plan to work in medical devices, and likely also in the charitable sectors

I started looking for internships at the beginning of Michaelmas term, using the CHOICE engineering careers database.

I searched for small companies marked ‘mechanical engineering’ in the ‘bio and medical’ industry, particularly in Cambridge, which means I can continue working on the CUER car. I confirmed my place at Arete at the end of December 2018.

The aim of CUER was always to go to Australia, and people were selected for the team based on their contributions to the project. I am currently the Lead Chassis Engineer in the project, and knew I was going to go to Australia after the 2018 Summer Design Team.

I first heard about the trip to Uganda during a talk by Afrinspire in November 2018 hosted by the Impact Through Innovation Cambridge (ITIC) student society, of which I was on the committee for 2017/18. I applied straight away and had my place on the trip confirmed by the beginning of December 2018.

My main aim for my future career is to help people.

I plan to work in medical devices, and likely also in the charitable sectors. The main thing I hope to learn from this summer is perspective.

I applied for small companies, as this will allow me to compare the operations in both small and large companies, having had the previous experience at BMW, as well as gaining experience in the industry I will work in. I will gain a vastly different perspective by travelling through rural Africa.

With the Eco Racing project, going to Australia means I will have been involved in the full cycle from concept design to detailed design to building the car to the actual race, which is an invaluable experience which can be applied to many future engineering projects.

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