#FromHigherEdToHired - Harley Gasson - McLaren


Harley Gasson is employed by McLaren and is responsible for the cranktrain, valvetrain and ancillary systems for the V8 engine in its various forms, powering McLaren Automotive’s range of vehicles. 


1) What areas of engineering are important today?

I will always be biased towards the automotive sector, where I think research into internal combustion engines in order to reduce emissions and increase efficiency is very important right now. Equally as important is the growth of the electric drive sector, which is now largely prominent in both automotive and motorsport industries. We also cannot ignore the rise of autonomous vehicles. Aside from the automotive industry, I think aerospace and renewable energy will offer some very interesting and innovative challenges in the near future.

2) Tell me a little about your job. 

I am responsible for the cranktrain, valvetrain and ancillary systems for the V8 engine in its various forms, powering McLaren Automotive’s range of vehicles.
My job covers a range of responsibilities, starting from initial design concepts, calculations and analysis through to visiting suppliers to ensure the component can be manufactured and also assembled on the engine production line. The next stage is to validate the component through both engine and vehicle test programmes. Where problems do occur I become involved in the analysis of the component and the process starts again. When the component is optimised it must be released and planned for production. Design often initially takes place on a sheet of paper, before being transferred to 3D CAD and then to a 2D drawing for the manufacturing.

harley-gasson-mclaren-engine 3) What is the best thing about your job? 

The best thing about my job is the freedom of design and applying a wide range of skills learnt throughout my education. I enjoy solving problems from first principles and pushing the limits to achieve optimum component performance, whether that be through reduced weight, friction, noise and so on. One of the best things about working in design is eventually seeing your 3D CAD image come to life as a real component and viewing the manufacturing process first hand.

4) Which modules helped you the most?

I have all my mechanical principles, engineering science and engine design notes from university kept under my desk at work. They’re irreplaceable and have been a constant help when designing components for McLaren’s engines.

5) What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing about the course was the hands-on approach and having the freedom to become involved in extra-curricular motorsport activities. For two years I was Chief Engineer of the university’s Formula 4 team, and I was able to use the engine from this car for my dissertation focusing on the cylinder head performance and valvetrain dynamics. The university delivered education on a personal level with small lecture sizes whereby the staff knew your name and were aware of each student’s abilities and where they could improve.

6) What do you miss about University? 

I miss walking into the workshop and tinkering around with the Formula 4 car, ensuring it is ready for its next outing. Being in the workshop at night to run the newly built engine was always a great feeling. The social side of university was a massive part of my time in Swansea and I will always miss that unrivalled social experience.

7) Any advice for future students?

It can be very difficult, but try to have an end goal. It makes the course much easier if you have an idea of what you want to get out of it. Take as many notes as you can and definitely get involved in any extra-curricular activities. These make you grow as a person and always stand out well on a CV. Also, if studying in a STEM field, try to register as a STEM ambassador and get involved in local activities.


Blast from the past: here is Harley back in 2011.