26 September 2011
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc.–As an engineer, Jay O’Connell (you might say) has a dream job. As chief technical director for the Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan BMW racing team, he puts his Cornell engineering degree to use making cars go really fast (and last) around race tracks in competitions that last four hours.
His five-man engineering team works almost like any other engineering team, only they move around a lot more for about half the year.
The BMW connection
In earlier posts, we’ve showed how O’Connell and team stay hyper competitive and work to be better even though the American Le Mans Series organizers have limited their car speed because they’re so successful.
O’Connell and crew work hand-in-glove with engineers from BMW to feed back data and other information that can be used to improve the team’s performance.
“We’re in the trenches trying to fix any issue that comes up first hand, but then they (BMW) have to look longer term. Is there an architecture issue? Is there something else in the electronics or mechanical side of the car that they can redesign to avoid that problem in the future?”
I asked O’Connell if there was anything that components vendors could do to get on his good side. His response was not surprising, given that his systems work in an extremely rugged environment: Higher quality, better reliability.
Listen as O’Connell describes how he and his team optimize their cars, work with BMW and push the envelope of engineering, fast and furiously.