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Josh Dobson, Engineering at Warwick Undergraduate

Bentley Motors!

After an action-packed summer I moved to Cheshire and at the beginning of October I began my graduate role at Bentley Motors. I’ve settled in well, picking up where I left off after my industrial placement, in the Quality Projects team.  

As well as working on ongoing projects, the graduate scheme also incorporates other elements such as CSR activities, supporting STEM engagement with local schools, and working with the IMechE on a professional accreditation to become chartered engineers.   It's early days, but I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Another rollercoaster term

This is my penultimate term at Warwick, and boy has it been a busy one! First, let’s talk submarines….

Term two has hosted two major project phases, and many important events. At the start of the term, we were just about to freeze our design, and by the end of term, we aimed to have half of it built.

We’ve had some great achievements. Three members of the team successfully completed their BSAC diving courses, and the team were successful in a number of sponsorship, funding and grant applications, bringing more companies on board than any previous year. This is a great testament to the reach, nature and impressive work that this project inspires.

Once our design was ‘frozen’ on the 19th February, we moved forward to begin procuring parts from suppliers and sponsors. We also planned our build phase - when, where, how, and why we would manufacture and assemble Godiva 2, the name given to our creation. We released a concept image across social media and to sponsors of our intended design, with some important design details hidden away from competitors.

Another success of this term is the submarine film team. I took the initiative by proposing the idea to some contacts I had made in the University through involvement with some graphic design work earlier in the year. This led to a successful collaboration which we hope will help to produce some great results both for the submarine team and the University.

Surprises and headaches

The procurement phase has brought many surprises, caused many headaches and meant our project has somewhat slipped in its timing. Perhaps it is our naivety of how long we expected it to take, or our lack of clarity in communicating our sometimes complex requirements to suppliers, that has led to this. That said, we are where we are, and it has been a real learning curve. The whole team know now that this is how it is in engineering in the real-world, and we will be prepared for it. We have adapted well, and I’ve taken steps to make sure other areas of the project are prioritised effectively, and that we make the most of the short time we have left.

Moving modules

Away from the submarine, but still with WMG, and the University, I’ve changed modules for term two. This term has provided some breathing space by only having two modules, but this means more time for submarine work! I’ve been studying Quality Systems, delivered by Graeme Knowles of WMG. This is a great module, which relates directly to my graduate role in Quality. As well as learning about the working world and quality techniques, I’ve been able to bring in my own experiences of my industrial placement, and summer work through discussion and involving lectures and seminars. In addition, we have had a group project which has engaged all members by looking at our own university experience. We have applied our theory and knowledge to something that affects each and every one of the team.

This term finally saw the end of my presidency of the swimming team, after two years. The experience has provided me with some great experiences from a personal point of view, and given me new skills that I can talk about and take forward to new areas in and out of work. This term ended on a high, with a great tour to Gran Canaria with the swimming team.

Here's what a normal day might look like for Josh.

Submarines, swimming, and a job offer

It’s been an extremely busy introduction to my fourth year. This term, I have had four core modules to study, as well as our Warwick Sub project to design a submarine, and fulfilling my role as president of the university swimming team. I have certainly been kept busy.

In some good news, at the end of term, I signed a graduate job offer from Bentley. This is a result of my industrial placement year and subsequent summer placement at the company, and I look forward to starting at the company full-time in October.

For now, there’s plenty of work to do…

Warwick Sub Project

In October, we kicked off with the Warwick Submarine project. This is an academic project, required for our Master's, where a team of six students design, build and race a human-powered submarine. Yes, it really is as exciting as it sounds.

WarwickSub is one of the most high-profile student engineering projects at the University of Warwick, and I’m exceptionally grateful to be part of it. As a result of all this attention, there is a real emphasis on the team to deliver and be successful. I’m hoping this added pressure brings out great results from the team.

I wanted to use all my experiences from my work placements at Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover and BP as well as the great experiences of my past four years at Warwick. To this end, I put myself forward as project leader, and so far, the role has gone brilliantly.

I put together a rigorous project plan to kick-off operational work for the team, with a reporting structure not dissimilar to that used in industry. For many other aspects, I’ve wanted to try and emulate industry as much as possible. This has made it easier to interface with our range of great sponsors and project supporters, and achieve our goals as a team.

We’ve all worked together really well so far. Some of our key achievements from term one have been:

  • Completed benchmark testing of the previous entry ‘Godiva’ from 2015 in the campus swimming pool
  • Selected all of our key feature content to work on this year
  • Agreed some of our key sponsors
  • Completed our academic poster and first design models

As well as leading the project this year, I’m also responsible for all the marketing and branding of Warwick Sub, such is the wide and varied nature of the project. You can follow the project and keep up to date on all of our team’s progress on Facebook, Twitter and our website.

Undergraduate modules

This year I have elected to study some modules delivered by WMG teaching staff. These modules, namely Quality Systems and Supply Chain Management, may not be traditional engineering subjects (such as core maths and physics) but they are the ones which I feel will have considerable benefit when I graduate and move into employment.

In term one, I studied Supply Chain Management, and completed two assignments directly related to my graduate employer, Bentley Motors, where I assessed the company’s abilities for outsourcing. The module is engaging and relevant, and makes it all the more interesting, knowing there are elements I will be using when I start my graduate employment in October.

With such a packed and busy first term, I’m looking forward to the challenges of term two. Key hurdles to overcome include the delivery of a manufactured submarine, completing my last academic modules and leading the submarine team to delivering a successful academic submarine project.

Josh Dobson

Josh Dobson

Warwick Sub Team

Josh is a fourth year MEng Mechanical Engineering student. He is also the project manager for Warwick Sub.