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Joining the University of Wolverhampton Racing team proved to be fantastic decision for James Small, who is zooming into a bright future.

The 28-year-old gained valuable experience as the University’s Team Leader for Formula Student, a global competition which takes place at the Silverstone Circuit.

It was the team’s most successful year to date in the contest, finishing ninth out of 48 UK university teams and placed thirteenth overall of the 128 teams entered.

James, from Broseley, said: “Formula Student has had massive benefits for me, from being involved in a live design project, to networking with major employers, and getting contacts which can be exploited for employment in the future. Not only is it design and engineering experience which is highly sought-after in the workplace, it’s great fun and provides relevance to what we learn in the classroom.”

Mature student James decided to study at the University because of its excellent reputation for engineering and employability: “The engineering campus at Telford has some great facilities and capabilities which I was very interested to explore. It has a very good reputation for employability and friends of mine who studied here recommended it. I have always had an interest in engineering, and my father is a mechanical engineer. Following on from research into job opportunities this seemed like a very secure career path. For anyone wanting to work in design, it covers all the theory and engineering principles needed to validate designs.”

Like many mature students, James had to juggle differing demands on his time, as he explains: “I found it quite difficult at first to balance university and home life. Being a mature student with children and part-time employment, time management was a challenge. I treated my studies as more of a lifestyle choice than an occupation, so every moment that I could get I was at my laptop working on projects and exam revision!

“I came from a background where I had a career which paid good money, and it was a very difficult decision to leave that behind and come back into education and re-train. Not only was it difficult to live on a much-reduced income, I also found education challenging. However I allowed myself my first year to get this out of my system before moving into year two, where I could focus on studying as hard as possible.” 

But the hard work paid off, as `James is graduating from the Faculty of Science and Engineering with a first class BEng Mechanical Engineering with Professional Development. His next step is to further his academic studies, and he will start on the MSc Advanced Technology Management (Engineering Analysis) in autumn 2017.

His future ambitions are to pursue a career in mechanical design, and ideally in the automotive/motorsport industry or defence sector.

He adds: “I have loved my time at the University of Wolverhampton. Both the City and Telford campuses are really nice places to be. The academics in the School of Engineering are both knowledgeable and approachable. Geographically the University is in a really good location for engineering, and the relationships that the University has with local businesses means that engineers area in a really good position when searching for employment.” 

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