Richard Hopkirk

Engineering Manager

Maths, Engineering, Physics, Design & Technology, Computing

Richard was the Engineering Manager for Land Rover BAR on its challenge for the 35th America's Cup. At school he studied maths, further maths, physics and chemistry. During during school and university summer holidays Richard did work experience at engineering companies, and took a gap year between school and university with the British Army. He went on to study at Cambridge and Harvard, gaining a Masters in Engineering at both.

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

I start late, working Bermuda hours so I can keep in touch with the team on the ground. Most of my day is in discussions - with team leaders over the various projects they are running, directly with the project owners to help take decisions on our technical strategy, or maybe with the sailors to get some feedback on a new system we've given them. Later on I'll probably catch up with some paperwork - perhaps checking the budgets to make sure we've enough money to do the projects we'd like to. Then if the crew are sailing I'll watch some of the outing, and listen to the debrief, before reviewing the day sailing notes.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I've had two career highlights. Firstly, helping win the F1 world championship with Lewis Hamilton in 2008. Secondly, successfully developing the hybrid system for the McLaren P1 road car which launched in 2013 as the world's first Hybrid Supercar.

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

If you enjoy the subject matter then they are incredibly useful as they give you the fundamental understanding you'll later need to do effective engineering.

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

I really enjoyed them. I still use what I learnt on a daily basis.

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

Linear algebra, matrices and trigonometry - it's the basis for physical modelling of 3D systems. We use it to model the boat and optimise its performance.

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

Do what you enjoy at school. The level steps up at uni so you’ll need both a good knowledge base as well as some spare capacity to take that jump.

Give us a fun fact!

I love sport, I used to row and compete in triathlons. These days the job takes most of my time but I still love to get out and cycle in the hills near Portsmouth.