Student blog: A year in industry

Richard Mills and Hugh Williams are both on their placement year in industry at Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckley. They have been working as design engineers and have written to us to let us know about their experience so far; from the application process to projects they have been getting stuck into.


One of the things that immediately impressed me about Triumph was the efficiency and professional manner in which they recruit students: their initial application process consists of sending a CV and covering letter; there are too many companies that require you to spend hours and hours filling in forms only to be rejected by a computer before an actual human being knows you have applied. Every application to Triumph is assessed personally and thus ensures the individual is appropriate for the position and is what Triumph are looking for. Upon completion of the application stage I was asked to complete online aptitude tests and as a result was invited to an assessment centre at the factory. The assessment was an excellent day that included some group work, further testing and a tour of the factory. I was then invited to an interview with two of the team leaders from the design department. It was a few weeks after this I was offered a placement that would start in the summer.
I was very excited to start my placement and gain some real experience of engineering in industry: my first couple of weeks were filled with inductions from various sections of the business. I spent a day on the assembly line in order to appreciate what went into building a motorcycle and how efficient Triumph were at doing this. This was a real eye-opener as the pace was very fast and any issues caused the whole line to be stopped – I would still say that was the most exhausting day I have had so far. In addition to this I attended an invaluable CAD course which gave me the knowledge required to work as an engineer in the department and to be given genuine tasks from the outset. Although Triumph really do treat you as any other employee support is always available if required, however, I immediately felt I was making a difference and was not just there to be a menial worker for a year.

I have carried out a range of different tasks since I arrived but one of the bigger responsibilities I was given was the design of a revised shaped catalyst and sump for a future model. I began with scheming some possibilities in CAD to get an idea of how it could all fit together and after this I refined the design. I modelled the sump from scratch and carried out modal analysis to ensure the part would not behave as a noise source at certain engine frequencies. I used existing data to compare the costs of catalysts to recommend a solution that would offer improved performance as well as reducing cost. I have also been lucky enough to be involved in some practical testing and was given the opportunity to visit MIRA which is an automotive proving ground (as seen on Top Gear!) to carry out noise testing and do some cooling work in the climatic wind tunnel. I have also worked on numerous other parts of the engine including header, lubrication, cooling and intake systems as well as designing some apparatus that could be used on the test rigs during the testing of new engines.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Triumph and would recommend a placement here to all students considering a career in engineering. Whilst university provides you with the required engineering theory, I have developed skills at Triumph that cannot be taught in a lecture theatre and I am positive this will benefit me massively upon my return to university and later in my future as an engineer.


The day before my interview, Richard and I were studying in St George’s computer room when he received a phone call from Triumph: he had gotten the job. If the thought of an interview was not nerve-wracking enough, this had certainly made it worse!

Two tense weeks later I was also offered a placement in the Accessories Design department to start in July.

Luckily for us both we had been good friends since early in first year so we started to look for a house together. The move to Hinckley was relatively stress-free but I was not looking forward to leaving Sheffield having grown up and gone to University there.

My first few weeks were very like Richard’s and I was placed on the same induction program to learn about the different departments as well as general training to get us up and running.

Accessories for Triumph motorcycles range from the soft or hard luggage strategies to cosmetic and performance bodywork. I have been given the opportunity to work on several products intended for production on future models such as a radiator guard and a set of pannier frames. This work has included communicating with product planning in order to achieve the correct styling, as well as large amounts of FEA analysis to check that components will survive fatigue loading using data from testing on similar or previous models.

Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Triumph and would recommend any student at Sheffield to apply who is looking for the best experience of the engineering sector. If you are like me and enjoy both technical engineering and the aesthetics of products, the Accessory Design department at Triumph could well be for you.