Q: How long have you been working for Advanced Electric Machines?
GC: It’s been about 18 months so far.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your career so far?
GC: Before I worked at Advanced Electric Machines, I worked in motorsport with the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, which was a support series for Formula E. This was the first time that I’d worked with electric vehicles, and I just found the technology involved absolutely fascinating.
From there, I wanted to work more closely with powertrains, and the technology that I saw being produced at AEM really piqued my interest. In many ways, then, it seemed like a good fit.
Q: What is your role at Advanced Electric Machines?
GC: As a Product Development Engineer, I look after all the development and validation of the motors. This means that once we have a design in place, it’s up to me to organise the testing we need to do, to decide how we analyse the data that comes from these tests, and to figure out how we fix any problems that may arise. Another big aspect of my role is to undertake simulation and work to support the design team to understand a product’s performance, how we make the performance, and how we ensure the thermal characteristics are correct.
Q: What professional achievement are you most proud of at AEM so far?
GC: I think the biggest professional achievement of my time at AEM so far has been to come into a role that is not typically available in such a young business and to build up the processes and the expertise that we have in systems engineering and in development engineering. In particular, we have had to build up all of our knowledge and experience in functional safety-related matters. We started this process from scratch when I started here, and we are now well on our way to making products that conform with ISO 26262.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
GC: What excites me most is working with some really new cutting-edge technology and doing something that’s different to what every other motor manufacturer out there is doing. I love that we are really trying to push the boundaries of the technology and the industry. Another important aspect of my enjoyment here is that we are trying to do something that’s sustainable and we’re trying to be more sustainable ourselves as well.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing PEMD at the moment, and how is Advanced Electric Machines trying to help?
GC: I think the biggest challenge facing PEMD is sustainability, which is obviously the main thing that electrification in general was tackling. But that doesn’t come easy, whether it’s the batteries that you store the energy in or how you create the energy, as well as all of the materials that go into all of the powertrains and all of the products that support this.
AEM is really pushing hard to make motors as sustainable as possible. There’s no point in moving away from fossil fuels
completely only to create another problem like lead in petrol was – if we’re going to do something new and different to try and solve one problem, we have to do it the right way and do it sustainably, and that’s what Advanced Electric Machines is really trying to do.
Q: Why should PhDs work at Advanced Electric Machines and what opportunities are they going to have if they come here?
GC: I have a PhD myself and I find the environment here very interesting. We have a lot of extremely clever people on board that that are pushing our technology forward, and with this comes a lot of opportunities to really tackle interesting and challenging problems in different areas. From personal experience, I think that’s quite exciting for a PhD.
I think one of the other things that a PhD can bring to the role is being able to approach a blank sheet of paper and work out how to go about solving a problem. What we’re trying to do is new and has never been done before, so it needs people to think in in a way where they can find a solution, rather than just reapplying what they already know. PhDs are really great at this.
Q: How does AEM support your professional development?
GC: AEM supports the membership of professional institutions and also supports on-the-job training across different areas of the business. We also have people that work in multidisciplinary teams to get experience cross-functionally across the business. This really helps the professional development of the whole team.
Q: What impact do you feel your contribution has to the company?
GC: I feel that I bring in my knowledge and experience of what vehicle manufacturers want from a powertrain. Of course, with my background in vehicle engineering, I will look at a problem in a slightly different way to the people that have come from producing powertrains, and this brings a depth of knowledge and experience of how vehicles work and how the vehicle systems interact with our motors. And that’s really important for designing good motors.
Q: How would you describe the company culture here at AEM?
GC: The culture here is very positive and forward-looking. It’s a friendly environment, but people are very much trying to do their best and push forward. We have a team that is always trying to look at the best in every situation and move forward at the fastest possible pace. To my mind, that’s an exciting place to be.
On a professional level, we have a very supportive environment. We always encourage people to try new things and explore their interests.
Q: What would you say are the core values at AEM?
GC: Number one is sustainability. I think that’s the founding ideal of the company – to make a more sustainable motor, and this philosophy runs through. This is clear when you see the team every day, in their views and how they go about their work. And this is not just the rare earth magnets; there’s so many different areas of the motor in which we’re trying to push sustainability because it truly is one of our core values.
I think the second would be a passion for new technology. We try and look for better ways to do to everything and not just accept the current status quo. And again, you can see that the team are all trying to push and find better ways to do what they need to do, and the motors are completely new and unique in the world, so that really shows.
Q: What are the qualities that you personally are looking for in new recruits?
GC: The qualities that I’m looking for in in new recruits would be a real passion to get to the bottom of understanding what’s going on, and the will to always dig that little bit deeper. For me, if there are things that I don’t quite understand, then I really want to get to the bottom of them and understand them. I also really value strong attention to detail.
I think lastly, we need people to be passionate – passionate about what we’re doing, passionate about the technology and sustainability, and to really want to make a difference. We want our team to use their use their skills and experience to really push things forward.