Crash analyst job

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Sandra Tipping is a crash analyst in Coventry, working to prevent accidents. She works in crash simulation using computer-aided engineering (CAE) to iron out problems on computers before changes are made to the main vehicle design.

Why do you simulate car crashes?

We need to understand how a car will respond in a crash. Before new models are put into production, it is important to find out the weaknesses and strengths in existing vehicles. These can then be highlighted and fed back to the design teams before they start work on the next prototypes.

How do you do this?

Initially, we use computer-aided design (CAD). We create drawings to construct models that we can use for simulation and to support physical testing. After testing, we do correlations to understand how our models have behaved in the 'real world'. This allows us to improve them.

What equipment do you use?

I mostly use computers with specialist CAD and Finite Element Analysis software. I attend all physical testing, which involves prototype vehicles being propelled using hydraulic rams (for deceleration testing), or 'hyge sleds' (which are special acceleration test devices). This equipment is controlled by the test engineers.

What was your route into your Crash analyst job?

With the support of a Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership Award, I elected to do a summer break at Volvo in Sweden where I worked in crash simulation. I then decided this was the area I wished to pursue.

What do you enjoy about your Crash analyst job?

I enjoy the opportunity to contribute to the complete design process, and I find the simulation and analysis work challenging.

What training have you received?

My degree was my formal training. I started on the graduate scheme and had nine months of placements in different departments before taking on my current role. Subsequent training has been on the job, supported by a small amount of classroom time to reinforce the learning.

What do you like best about your Crash analyst job?

I get to see the whole vehicle, and I enjoy the variety of supporting a number of different design departments like restraints (seat belts), seats and 'body in white' (where prototype vehicles are made up).

What are the main challenges?

Working for such a large organisation, you really are a small cog in a big wheel, and it can be difficult to influence processes and procedures on anything more than a local level.

What skills do you need to become a Crash analyst?

You need to have a good understanding of basic mechanics, and good communication skills so that you can explain results and influence design changes. You also need to be good at writing reports in order to record results with lessons learnt at each design phase.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to continue with CAE and qualify as a Chartered Engineer. I'm also considering undertaking a PhD.

Sandra's route to her career as a Crash analyst

  • A levels.
  • Summer placement in Sweden, whilst doing her degree.
  • Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Current post.

Sandra's Crash analyst tips

  • Get some good work experience – engineering is very diverse and it may help you to decide which are to pursue.
  • Have a good career plan and keep updating it.
  • Find out and understand a company's culture and how you might fit into it.

Crash analyst job related jobs

  • Aerospace engineer
  • CAD draughtsperson
  • Materials engineer
  • Measurement and control technician
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Product designer
  • Product engineer

Salary of a Crash analyst

  • New design engineers typically start on around £18,000 a year.
  • Experienced engineers may be paid about £30,000 a year.
  • Very senior design engineers earn up to £45,000 a year, or more.

Crash analyst job

  • Most design engineers take a degree at university or college in an engineering subject, such as materials, mechanical, electrical or civil engineering.
  • There are also some courses aimed specifically at design engineers. These have titles such as engineering product design, computer-aided design engineering, and engineering design and manufacture.
  • Entry requirements for a degree course vary, but generally a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), normally including maths and a science subject, or equivalent qualifications, are required. Some design engineering degree courses may require A levels in design and technology, and physics. Applicants should check with individual universities and colleges. Apprenticeships may also be available.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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