Elisabeth McLean

Design Engineer

Maths, Engineering, Physics, Design & Technology, Computing

Elisabeth was a Design Engineer in the Analysis and Simulation team for Land Rover BAR on its challenge for the 35th America's Cup. Originally from Sweden, Elisabeth was responsible for running simulations of air and water-flow around the boat, which helped the team to understand and predict what forces the boat could handle.

Briefly describe a typical day for you at the Land Rover BAR base.

When I come in to work in the morning our computer cluster has run overnight with the simulations I started the day before. I check that they are running as expected, and start to extract results from each simulation. We often run simulations of different daggerboard designs, and see how they perform. It is quite exciting to see how much faster one design can be compared to another one. I put together the data into a report and we share our results with all of the design team in team meetings. When the sailors are out sailing the boat, we have data probes on the boat that feedback to our office with how the boat is performing. After sailing, our design team get together with the sailors and discuss how it went and what we think we need improve on to make the boat go even faster. I end my day with creating more simulations (often several hundreds), and submit them to the computer cluster. They can't all start at once, so they wait in a queue until computer power is available. When I go home, some of the simulations have started and some will start later that night. I quite like that the computer is working for me when I'm at home asleep!

What degree(s) did you study to end up in a role like yours?

MSc Mechanical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden and also one year abroad in an exchange-program with AeroSpace Engineering at California Polytechnic State University.

Why do you think studying STEM subjects at school is important?

The STEM subjects feeds the curiosity on why things work the way they do. If we can make science and technology approachable then the next generation will have the tools to make it their own, and develop the skills to take our understanding of the world to the next level.

If you could do another job in STEM, what would it be?

I always wanted to work in a Large Hadron Collider.

Briefly describe what you thought of STEM subjects in school, and whether your opinion has changed now?

I didn't always know how the maths I was being taught could be used in real life. I wish I would have been shown how it can be applied in different fields.

What has been the highlight of your role so far?

Seeing our designs sail on the water - and stay afloat!

What would be your advice for young people interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

Don't be afraid to ask "what does this do?".

Name a STEM topic or skill which you learnt at school that you still use in your current role, and how you apply it.

The engineering field of fluid dynamics. I use this to run simulations of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics to better understand performance of engineering solutions.

Give us a fun fact about yourself.

I munch on a Haribo first thing in the morning - I keep a bag on my bedside table.

And for bonus points, what's your best STEM joke?

There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't.