May 24, 2022
Jasmine is one of our Engine Builders in the non-production build shop, affectionately known as Build Shop 1 within the walls of our Northampton headquarters. Before Jasmine joined us, she already had a close affinity with Cosworth. In her previous role, she was working for an engineering company that tasked her with the building of DFV’s among other projects. Jasmine has been building engines for close to 11 years now and for the last two years of her compelling career, she’s been here with us at Cosworth.
Build Shop 1 must be an exciting place to work, what kind of projects do you get to be a part of in your role?
In build shop 1, we work on low volume, special projects. As an engine builder, I assemble a variety of engines, largely race engines and all the sub-assemblies to the engineer’s specification ready for testing. It’s very rewarding to watch the engine running on the testbed after you have spent the time building it.
I also attend track tests with our customers to ensure engines are performing to their full capacity. Normally, we just keep an eye on the engine, check for leaks, and carry out other tasks to monitor how the engine is running. Sometimes we perform a borescope to check that everything looks okay internally. To see the finished product running on track, really gives me a great sense of achievement.
Since joining Cosworth, I’ve been involved on a historic Formula One project, I am assembling a variety of engines from the late 80s to early 90s, which have also been reverse engineered for historic F1cars. I’ve also been lucky enough to support the finished cars, track side and watch them perform in all their glory.
I also get to see my engines running on the dynos we have in house here. There is always a sense of nervousness when your engine gets fired up for the first time. Even though you know you’ve put it together correctly, meticulously following each step and ensuring all of the tolerances and specifications are set perfectly, you feel a little anxious as it bursts into life. I often imagine all of the components in there moving at 13,000rpm.
When your engine has done that first run, you relax a little, and then you can just enjoy the test and watch the engine getting put through its paces.
Can you take us through the process of working on an engine that’ve you’ve never worked on before?
When it comes to building different engines, you do find that an engine is an engine, but there are always different ways of doing things. So, you always feel like you’re starting again every time you move on to a different engine. You will know the basics, as most engines have a similar architecture, but there are many detail differences.
Our engineers will give us a build request and it will include all of the specifications that you need to work to. As I work through the first engine, I take a lot of notes. It’s a really important task, which eventually becomes my own personal build manual. It includes all of the details and quirks that an engine may have, which saves me from having to rely on my memory so, I can be more precise with the way I work.
Information like ring gaps, bearing clearances, and torque settings are all in my manual which helps me speed up the process of assembling an engine.
Could you tell us more about the route that you took to get to where you are now?
I left school, unsure about what I wanted to do as a career. I went to a college open day and the motorsport course there really appealed to me. I had a strong interest in cars throughout my teenage years and was keen to challenge myself. During my final year of college, I knew I wanted to head down the engine building route. I managed to get some work experience at an engineering company that built historic race engines. When I finished my course, I was offered a full-time role, which I stayed in for nine years. I then managed to get an interview here at Cosworth, and the rest is history.
Moving onto your life outside of work, we understand that you’re interested in Japanese cars and gliding, can you tell us more about your passions?
Right now, I’m really into my gliding, I’ve been doing it since 2017. Previously to that, I was really into my cars. Building cars, depending on what you’re into can become very expensive. Gliding costs, once you’ve got your own glider are mainly maintenance checks, club fees and things like that.
Gliding is fantastic and requires a good scientific understanding of the weather, which is a nice challenge to stuck into. I’m really interested in meteorology, so it ties in nicely with my gliding. The altitude we can achieve with thermals is amazing, considering that we start from ground level and ascend without the power of an engine.
My longest flight Solo was two hours, 15 minutes. At a winch site, you don’t get very high during the launches, but you can be up all day if you get a good day with a lot of rising heat.
Previously to flying, I was very much into my Japanese cars. I had an MR2 turbo which wasn’t boosted when I bought it, so I did an engine swap. Then I moved onto a DC2 Integra Type R. I wanted to use it as my daily driver alongside my MR2, but it was too nice. I didn’t want to ruin it by putting lots of miles on it and driving it in poor weather conditions.
My fiancé also had an RX7 that was used for time attack, which was very cool. We actually rebuilt the rotary engine. That was quite an interesting build, the main reason for the rebuild was to do the bridge port modification which opens up the engine for more performance.
As a woman in engineering, what hurdles have you faced trying to forge a career in a male dominated industry?
Overall, I’ve had great support, I feel like I haven’t been treated any differently which is really good. On the rare occasions, you do come up against negative attitudes and comments, but these people need to realise that they have nothing to say that we haven’t already heard.
My path to getting to where I am, has had its challenges, even at a school level. Believe it or not, I studied textiles, when I could have done Design Technology. I guess I was pushed down the textile route, because “that’s what girls should do”. As a woman, it does feel like you are pushed down a certain path. You’re not given other ideas or guidance on different, non-stereotypical careers. Now, looking back I wish I had done some form of engineering-based subject at school.
However, saying this, it didn’t stop me from getting here [Cosworth]. Working or trying to make it in this industry as a woman, can be difficult and upsetting at times. However, I have a strong mindset and with the interest and desire to push myself to learn something new, I kept working at it and now I’m an engine builder for Cosworth.
It would have been great to have female role models to look up to. When I was studying, there weren’t really any role models visible in this field at the time. Being able to see someone like you, working in a place that you dream of gives you extra confidence to think that you can achieve your dream. It does seem to be changing, there are a lot more women in engineering now, which is great for future generations. However, there still is a big gap that we need to address.
What advice would you give fellow women who want to work in a position like yours?
I think you need to know and be sure of what you want to achieve and just keep pushing for your goals. There will be some tough times and people saying that you can’t work in our industry because you’re a woman. You need to filter this negativity out, it’s just noise. You truly know what you can achieve, be confident about it.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, they’re things that I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. Looking back, I could have learnt things quicker if I had spoken up and asked the questions I had in my mind. I felt like I had to know everything from day one, which isn’t the case. I’m always learning something new, even though I’ve been doing this for 11 years now, it’s the same with life, there’s always a new lesson to be learnt.
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