INWED21: “The buzz” of seeing your design become a living, breathing thing

INWED21: “The buzz” of seeing your design become a living, breathing thing

22 June 2021

Renette de Villiers, a Project Engineer, is our latest interviewee as we continue our week-long celebration of International Women In Engineering Day 2021 (INWED21).

Renette, aged 30, works for engineering consultancy Performance Projects at Silverstone Park and, until recently, was responsible for the company’s intricate design of high-tech steering wheels used in international sportscar racing.

CLICK HERE to read her fascinating International Women’s Day blog (March 2021) about leaving behind her life in South Africa to pursue her career in engineering.

However, Renette’s focus in 2021 has been on something very different…

“We’ve been working on some government-funded projects which include drivelines for off-road vehicles like tractors or some that are used by the military.

“I’ve been working on the gearbox design which isn’t something I’ve done before – I studied it at university (Stellenbosch) so to finally be able to apply that to a real world project is fulfilling.

“The same principles apply and it’s why anyone who has an interest in how things work or has an idea for how something could/should work can become an engineer – it can be pretty much in anything that surrounds us in life and certainly doesn’t have to be in automotive at all; that just happens to be what I’m involved with.

“The design I’ve worked on has been a multi-stage planetary design, involving strength analysis and using specialist software to help me design the gearbox.

“It’s always a good feeling when you’ve got the design finalised on screen, but even better is when you see the actual parts you’ve designed in the flesh. You can physically touch them. It’s the stage we’re at now and that’s exciting.

“The buzz would be exactly the same if you’d helped design a mobile phone, a piece of furniture, a skyscraper or whatever.

“What also makes this project interesting is that we believe we’ve identified opportunities in the market with this design – there’s the potential to scale-up and turn it into large volume production.

“If that happens and suddenly it’s in lots of off-road vehicles such as tractors in fields then it’s exciting to know it all started here on my screen in the office.”

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