Co-creating the futureFollow article
Judith Henzel, TE Connectivity's Resident Engineer with Andretti Technologies
TE Connectivity (TE), the lead partner for Andretti Technologies, runs a rotational engineer programme that places a resident TE engineer inside Andretti’s Autosport shop in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. TE’s resident engineer provides advanced engineering expertise and works to find new ways to improve the performance of the Andretti Team, while at the same time co-creating and testing new TE products in the harsh and real-world environment of Formula E racing, where every millisecond matters.
*UPDATE* JUNE 2016 - Check out the latest video from Judith: 'Do what you love'...
We caught up with Judith Henzel, TE's current resident engineer, who has temporarily relocated from Germany to the US to work with Andretti Technologies, to learn more about the exciting world of electric car racing.
So Judith, can you please tell us a bit about your background…
I have worked for TE Connectivity for 3 years now. Originally I worked as Project Manager for TE’s automotive business within the infotainment department, which was my first full-time job after I graduated from university. This followed an internship with Lufthansa that piqued my interest in automotive engineering.
After my internship, I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden where I combined my passion for motorsport with my engineering studies and joined the university’s Formula Student programme.
So, how did you end up relocating to Indianapolis?
The opportunity arose at TE for an assignment with Andretti Technologies. I was fortunate to have been chosen for the position, and have been working in Indianapolis with Andretti Technologies since February this year. It’s a very unique opportunity to gain this experience and share key learnings with my engineering colleagues at TE.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The partnership with Andretti is two-fold. (1) How can we help the team reach new levels of speed and better performance? (2) How can we test and develop products in the harsh environment of racing, especially as it relates to clean-energy innovation? This partnership means we are helping our partner – Andretti Technologies – and, at the same time, they are helping us innovate and accelerate development. I’m essentially the main engineer between the two organisations; needing to assess the challenges and provide connectivity and sensor solutions. We’re also learning about speed from challenge to ideation to manufacturing to launch. The race team not only moves fast on the track but also off the track. There may be only a few weeks in between races so we need to develop solutions quickly so we can continue to improve the performance of the car.
I understand there are over 100 TE products in every race car – can you tell us about these products?
We use a wide range of TE products in the Formula E car – plug connectors, in-line connectors, cable boots, panel mounts, ring terminals, relays and a wide variety of heat shrink tubing. TE's DEUTSCH products have reliably performed in some of the harshest environments.
Lightweight connectors are key components in the race cars, along with a range of sensors, including position sensors, pressure sensors, temperature sensors and accelerometers.
A number of the actual parts used in the Formula E car, as well as many others in their respective series, are already available from RS Components. Some specific examples of TE products include:
- DEUTSCH DTM Series 6 Way Connector Plug with crimp termination
- DEUTSCH DTM Series Wedge Lock for use with 6 Way Connector Plug
- Junior Timer Series 2 Way Cable Mount Socket Housing
- Solistrand Series Crimp Ring Terminal
- F4 Series PCB Mount ISO Power Relay
- AMPSEAL Series 35 Way Cable Mount Plug Housing
- AMPSEAL Female Crimp Terminal
How do you go about finding new ways to improve Andretti’s performance?
Through the partnership with Andretti, we run a series of technology workshops with engineers from both organisations, working together to solve specific problems and make incremental performance improvements.
TE Connectivity Andretti Technologies Formula E Test Car
What projects are you currently working on?
We are in the early stages, but current projects include sensors, aluminium wire harnesses and a comprehensive weather station since wind, sun and rain play an important role in race strategy and the car’s performance. There are also some proprietary projects that I can’t discuss.
You are the fourth resident engineer in the program – how long will you be working with Andretti?
Each resident engineer gets to work inside the Andretti Autosport shop in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a six month period. I’ll be working with the Andretti team until August 2017. It’s been a great experience thus far. I’m looking forward to the next few months with the team, but also returning to Germany and sharing everything I learned.
Do you think your Formula Student experience was instrumental in your selection for the role?
My experience with Formula Student, along with a passion for motor racing that developed as a child, has been of paramount importance in gaining this prestigious appointment within TE. I think everyone who does Formula Student wonders what it would be like to work for a professional team. I’m lucky to be one of the few to know!
RS has supported the Formula Student programme in the past. How important do you think programmes like this are in supporting young engineers?
Formula Student is very important, not just for students but for manufacturing companies, components suppliers and OEMs in finding new engineering talent. I was heavily involved in the Formula Student programme for 4 years while studying at university. Going through the process of building your own car and developing internal systems for oil consumption and the fuel system gives a real, hands-on experience for students to take into the real world. It helps students develop additional business skills in addition to engineering, such as marketing and business planning.
Is it more challenging for you as a woman working in a very male-dominated environment?
Personally, I don’t see gender as an issue. It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, you just have to really want to do it, and have a passion for the job. I think that’s the key to anything you do in life.
What is it about Formula E that excites you?
Formula E as a sport is in a unique position. It is the future of transportation in a consumer sense and I am hugely excited to be working with TE Connectivity as they take on a massively important role in building the world’s connected and sustainable future.
Find out more about TE's winning connection with Andretti Technologies and Formula E
NOTE: DEUTSCH, SOLISTRAND, TE Connectivity, TE and TE Connectivity (logo) are trademarks.