Ricardo has helped develop many low-carbon vehicles including the McLaren P1 hybrid.
Engineering consultancy Ricardo, which specialises in the automotive and niche manufacturing sectors, is preparing to open the new centre by the middle of 2015 as a place to design and test the latest propulsion technology.
‘The new facility will enable us to take on more projects and that will mean new graduate roles,’ Ricardo’s recruitment officer, Caroline Duffy, told The Engineer.
The new research centre will enable Ricardo to simulate extreme test conditions.
Ricardo provides technical services to many elements of the automotive industry, from helping make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles more powerful to manufacturing engines for McLaren, as well as working in other sectors including rail, defence and energy.
The new Vehicle Emissions Research Centre (VERC) based at the Ricardo Shoreham Technical Centre in West Sussex will allow the company’s engineers to test new emissions systems and vehicles in extreme conditions.
Graduate engineers need to be able to cope with blue-sky research projects that involve completely new engineering designs.
The company usually takes on between 20 and 40 graduate engineers a year (last year they took on over 40). New recruits go through a two-year graduate scheme that sees them try out four different roles in different locations (including overseas), but where they end up in the company usually depends on each graduate’s own skills and interests.
Graduates wanting to join the company need to demonstrate complex problem-solving skills to show they can cope with the company’s work of coming up with completely new engineering ideas, said resourcing manager Oonagh McPhillips.
‘A lot of what we do is “blue sky” and therefore there’s no reference documentation. So we need people who can think things through and explain what they do or how their thought processes have worked.’
Working at Ricardo can involve any element of engineering from design to manufacturing.
The first hurdle in applying for Ricardo’s graduate scheme is getting past the stringent CV selection process, which means applicants’ resumes and covering letters need to be tightly focused on demonstrating why they’re right for Ricardo.
’We’re interested in what – over and above their degree – they have achieved, that they’ve a history of engineering in terms of their hobbies and interests,’ said McPhillips.
’We don’t necessarily look for consultancy work experience or even engineering per se. For example, one individual we interviewed set up his own lawnmower repair business.
‘The other key thing we look at is project involvement. What have they been involved in, either as an individual or a team? … We’re also interested in understanding what they learnt from the experience.’