Electrical Engineering, Hungary, India, Powertrain, Shannon, Software, Technology

The inaugural Jaguar Land Rover GDD Hackathon

True to its name, it was indeed a global event with teams joining across all the GDD hubs in Gaydon, Manchester, Portland, Shannon, Hungary and India. The first stage of the competition kicked off with sourcing problem statements from all Jaguar Land Rover colleagues in May, and finally six problem statements were announced in June across the three domains – Electrical engineering, Power Electronics and Mechatronics.

Putting ourselves forward for the challenge

My teammates, Abhijith N Balan and Ronit Hire Jaisingh, and I are Software Engineers at Jaguar Land Rover India. We heard about the hackathon through word of mouth and decided to register for it. It would be our first hackathon since graduating from college two years ago and we were excited to get this chance to showcase our skills. With about a week to go for the registration deadline, we started having meetings to go through each problem statement in detail and choose the one that aligns with our vision the most. We found the HMI Navigation Testing problem statement intriguing and implementable in the near future in our cars. This was ideal since our prime goal was to help improve the customer experience we offer by solving real world technical problems. We also reckoned that it might have the most teams competing (which turned out to be correct), which was perfect since we were up for a challenge.

One of our last meetings leading up to the hackathon was to decide our team’s name for registration, which ran for over an hour (not our proudest moment) before we ended up finalizing “Chaotic Coyotes” (combined with our GitLab GraphRunner, a nod to the beloved childhood cartoon, the Road Runner). At the end of the meeting, we joked that this might be the longest meeting we have for the entire duration of the hackathon. If only we knew how wrong we were going to be!

The hackathon kicked off on 1st July at 12 noon BST

We realized that the deadline for the competition was the next day midnight for the UK, which was 4:30 am on a Saturday for us, far from ideal. At the start we felt our chances to complete in time looked bleak due to this fact. Nevertheless, we decided upon one thing – whenever one of us is working, he will join the teams meeting so that the others know about it. This probably turned out to be a game changer for us as over the next 36 hours we ended up with more than 25 hours of meetings! For our problem statement, we had to develop an algorithm that was capable of automating the HMI Validation of the car infotainment screen.

Given the home screen our algorithm had to ensure that we clicked on all buttons and visited all the available screens so that they can be tested, with two key factors deciding the quality of the solution – the efficiency and randomness. The algorithm needed to be efficient enough to not keep on repeatedly testing the same screens or buttons, and yet random enough to mimic the typical user’s behaviour where they might choose to visit certain screens more often than others. Balancing this trade-off would be crucial to developing an acceptable solution. I have my teammates to thank for coming up with ingenious approaches and a few clever workarounds which we stitched together and incorporated into one satisfactory solution.

The 36 hours of the hackathon for us were replete with all the clichés of a typical coding hackathon during our college days – sacrificing all sleep, forgetting meals sometimes, discovering a blunder less than an hour from the deadline and scrambling to correct it! Finally, at exactly 4:30 am on Saturday we submitted our solution and heaved a sigh of relief.

The presentation

After catching up on all the lost sleep over the weekend, we prepared for the next stage of the competition – the presentation. The judges had a lot of questions for us which we answered confidently and a few valuable inputs too which could add to our algorithm. We felt good about our chances after the presentation, but were mindful of the other teams too who undoubtedly would have brilliant solutions of their own. Before the results were declared we even got the chance to view the work done by all the other teams, and we found some strong contenders among those with quite efficient approaches.

Winning!

We were delighted to learn that our team was announced the winner, and excited when we were told about what lied ahead. Our implementation had impressed the judges and post the hackathon we have been working on bettering it and pitching to the senior management. We received quite positive feedback for our solution from the Chief Engineer (Software Validation & Integration) at Jaguar Land Rover and his team.

Recently, we also pitched our solution to the Elec & Systems Engineering Director who reviewed all the winning entries from the hackathon. In the next few weeks, we will be working on integrating our algorithm with the current testing strategy by the validation team for a PoC. All in all, it was an exhilarating experience for us. It was a commendable effort by the organizing committee to set this up from scratch and we hope to see our project come to fruition in our cars soon!

Siddharth Brahmbhatt, Software Engineer – ADAS

Apprentice, Early Careers, People

Life of a Jaguar Land Rover Apprentice, What You Need to Know. Part two.

I’m delighted to say that things are going well. I’m doing well at college, I recently had my behavioural review with my Work Based Learning Manager, which went well and was an excellent opportunity to get to know him better, which I really appreciated.

Since our last post, I’ve been in what’s called HE. HE is the academic portion of my foundation degree, with classes in Maths, Electrical Principles, Automotive Technology and Materials. I enjoy these lessons, the classes are small and I get to ask lots of questions if I don’t understand a topic or specific area of study. The lecturers are all ex-engineers, something I didn’t expect when I first came here. Many of my lecturers have experience in the automotive industry and I think this benefits us as apprentices, as being able to learn from these motivated, dedicated professionals gives us a great example and contributes to a better working and learning environment.

After HE, before we broke up for Christmas, I had a practical block: Automotive Electrical Maintenance. In this block I learned about the electrical components of an internal combustion engine, primarily the starter motor and alternator. I think I’m really benefiting from the teaching methods employed at the college. Learning the theory and then going straight into practical blocks really helps deepen my understanding, as I get to see first-hand the application of the engineering principles I’m learning about.

I returned to work after Christmas on January 2nd to a health and wellbeing event put on by the college and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). This was, by my estimation, truly excellent. The past three days have been eye-opening in parts, profound in others, and very beneficial to me and to the wider apprentice cohort. The JLR Info team, who are based at the college and who organised the event, had listened to suggestions made by apprentices after the induction week back in September, and organised the event so that we moved between presentations from the invited speakers in smaller groups, as opposed to us all being in the conference room for the entire event.

I really appreciated that the organisers of the event had listened to feedback intently, and had acted upon that information. I think this is reflective of the attitude that our managers have towards us as apprentices, we are treated as professionals that have ideas to contribute, we’re treated as valuable assets, as part of the team.

One of the key reasons I chose to join Jaguar Land Rover, ahead of other organisations, was the biography of Nick Rogers, Executive Director of Product Engineering, written on the Jaguar Land Rover Corporate website. This biography details Nick Rogers’ career at JLR, who I discovered began as an apprentice in 1984. This fact that an apprentice could rise to the executive level suggested to me that Jaguar Land Rover fosters an environment of respect for apprentices and trust in their capabilities. The health and wellbeing event proved this to me; Jaguar Land Rover cares about each and every one of us as individuals.

At the event, representatives from HSBC gave us advice on how to use our pay to save for a home and retirement, we had sessions on Drug, Alcohol & Gambling addiction, and we were introduced to BEN, a charity that offers support to members of the automotive industry. BEN concentrates on 4 elements of health and wellbeing, physical, mental, social and even financial health and wellbeing. We had a powerful session delivered by Warwickshire Fire Department called the Fatal Four about the four actions that lead to deaths in road traffic accidents; speed, distractions, not wearing a seatbelt and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This session was truly harrowing in places, graphic and made me think a lot about the risks involved when driving, in a group of our size, I do not think it unreasonable to suggest that this session could save lives.

My favourite parts of the health and wellbeing event were two presentations from current JLR employees. The first was from an employee who joined the army at aged 17, fought in Iraq and Afghanistan but suffered with stage 4 post-traumatic stress disorder. He spoke to us about competing at the Invictus Games, his recovery and journey to working at JLR. The day after we heard from another employee about the support JLR gives to its employees about stress and the work which is done to promote good health and wellbeing.

I’d like to leave this month with a quote that I think epitomises the Health and Wellbeing event. This quote was mentioned in an email from Dr. Ralf Speth to all employees on World Mental Health Day 2018: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together”

Callum Redmond, Jaguar Land Rover Degree Apprentice

Apprentice, Body Engineering, Early Careers, Engineering, People

From Young Women in the Know to Furthering Futures

What drew you to Jaguar Land Rover when you were seeking an apprenticeship?

I initially considered Jaguar Land Rover as it is a well-known, respected company and local to home. I discovered Jaguar Land Rover apprenticeships through the Young Women in the Know Programme (now Furthering Futures) where I spent a week visiting the Jaguar Land Rover sites, experiencing the facilities and meeting engineers. I was especially inspired by the apprentices I met who were only a couple of years older than me and working on some really exciting projects.  My impression of Jaguar Land Rover, was that it was an exciting, friendly and supportive place to work with a focus on developing people; somewhere I could see myself being happy. This course is the reason I am an apprentice at Jaguar Land Rover today!

Why did you decide to do a Degree Apprenticeship rather than go to university?

Although I was keen to do a degree, the traditional University route didn’t appeal to me. A degree apprenticeship offered the opportunity to work/earn money at the same time as studying meaning I could afford to move out and get a car. It also offered more practical experience and a direct route into employment, which was attractive because getting a job out of university is very competitive.

Describe a typical day at work

Typically I work 7:00am – 3:30pm. My day is split between a CAD role which involves developing designs in CAD, running CAE and analysing results and a Lead Engineer Role where I am responsible for delivering robust engineering releases and managing my parts through gateways. I tend to spend most of my time at my desk, but I am regularly on the phone, attend engineering reviews and meeting with my supplier.

As part of the apprenticeship, I attend University 6 weeks throughout the year and I spend a day a week working on my NVQ and work based projects.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is managing and prioritising my time between work, university, NVQ and other commitments. Although, I do enjoy being busy and I am never bored at work!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Identify role models and speak to as many people as you can about careers and their experience. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone because there are so many opportunities available!

What do you love most about working at Jaguar Land Rover?

I love that there is always something interesting to work on and another problem to solve. My team is supportive and fun to work with and I love that I can look back to 2014, when I start my apprenticeship, and see how much I have gained in confidence and capability.

Apprentice, Body Engineering, DFT, Electrical Engineering, Engineering, People, Software, Technology

Meet Our Pioneering Apprentices – Day 4 of 5

Mihaela Botnariuc successfully completed her Degree Apprenticeship in August 2018 and is now a Digital Optimisation Engineer in our Body Engineering team. As part of her technical training Mihaela gained a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Engineering from the University of Warwick, and is currently working towards a Master’s level qualification through our Technical Accreditation Scheme.

“In Body Engineering we are responsible for delivering almost everything the customer can see and touch on a vehicle. I work with the seating team to create digital models and tools that make our processes more efficient and enhance the overall quality of our products”.

“Our cars are beautiful, but to complete the package they require brilliant engineering. Even something as simple as choosing a material can be incredibly complex; we look at things like safety and crash performance, as well how the material looks, feels, and responds to customer usage over the lifetime of the vehicle”.

“At school I enjoyed the sciences, Maths, Art and Textiles, and saw myself going to university to study Mathematics. I didn’t know what I wanted to do afterwards and where I would apply my Maths degree once I obtained it. This was partly due to a lack of knowledge and experience of the wide applications of skills in the workplace.”

“I chose the Apprenticeship with Jaguar Land Rover because of my interest in STEM subjects and design. During the apprenticeship I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and experience the vast number of areas that are involved in developing our cars. This allowed me to grow my understanding and make a more informed decision about which areas were most suited to my interests and strengths.”

“My role involves both working alone, investigating and delivering solutions for the teams I work with, and being part of a team trying to understand our internal customer requirements and how those can be met. Therefore being a good communicator is important when interacting in teams and with colleagues whose requirements I am trying to meet. Independent thinking is also crucial when delivering solutions to customers.”

“I enjoy taking on new challenges and problem solving, which is essential for my role. In a typical week I work on a variety of projects including user trials, research projects, and projects that have Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) or Computer Aided Design (CAD) requirements. All this helps to meet design and aesthetic requirements for the components, while also balancing that with internal engineering standards for quality and safety.”

Mihaela is on the Degree Apprentice programme. To find out more about the Advanced, Higher and Degree Apprentice programmes we currently offer at Jaguar Land Rover, check out our careers website.

Apprentice, Autonomous, DFT, Early Careers, Electrical Engineering, Electrified, Engineering, People, Software, Who We Are

Meet Our Pioneering Apprentices – Day 3 of 5

Simon FitzGerald is a Fifth Year Degree Apprentice in Electrical Engineering. Originally from an IT background, Simon is now an experienced member of our electrical team, and is working towards a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Warwick.

“For the past couple of years I have delivered the Interior Sensing Platform (ISP), ensuring high quality software delivery from suppliers, as well as making sure we have a robust plan to resolve technical issues. I planned the scope and delivery of upcoming software releases, analysing changes in requirements, resolving technical issues and tracking actions at a project level.”

“After leaving college I completed an IT apprenticeship and worked as an IT engineer for a few years. This served me well as it offered further learning opportunities and the prospect of real work with earning potential. Upon completing my IT apprenticeship, I soon felt I was lacking a challenge at work and began looking at future prospects including a new job role, university and higher apprenticeships.”

“The Jaguar Land Rover programme was absolutely the best option for me. I was excited to learn new skills that would be relevant to my career in engineering, whilst being challenged and rewarded for my efforts every day. Back then there wasn’t such a wide range of apprenticeships to choose from, so it’s been great to see the growth in popularity over the last five years.”

“What advice would I give to my younger self? ‘Go for it!’ In my experience, you will be rewarded for being pro-active in seeking out new opportunities and asking challenging questions both inside and outside the organisation. Initially I was more reluctant to speak up, particularly when dealing with suppliers. It was a daunting prospect to challenge engineers far more experienced than myself on what they were delivering. I was cautious about being seen as inexperienced, but the culture here really rewards that technical curiosity and drive. My professionalism and determination to improve our products has been met with incredible support and as a result I have achieved more than I ever thought possible.”

“What I love most about Jaguar Land Rover is the challenges that I face daily in this organisation. Every day is different, enabling me to develop and hone new skills in constructive and valuable ways.” 

Simon is on the Degree Apprentice programme. To find out more about the Advanced, Higher and Degree Apprentice programmes we currently offer at Jaguar Land Rover, check out our careers website.