Anniversary Alumni Interview - Anthony Law
Anthony Law - Team Manager 2008-2009
What is your most vivid memory of your time with CUER?My favourite moment was getting our 2009 car out onto the road for the first tests in the Northern Territory in Australia. It felt like a huge journey to get to that point and there was a fantastic feeling with the whole team coming together to and seeing what we’d achieved. The weeks leading up to the race were probably the toughest part of the two years – everyone on the team working crazy hours in our workshop in the tropical heat trying to overcome all the last-minute problems that this type of engineering project throws at you!
What was the most important thing that CUER taught you?
The biggest take-away for me is not to underestimate what you can achieve with the right group of people, with the right ambition and enthusiasm. Looking back at the project I’m still amazed by how much support we were able to find – sponsors, local businesses, Cambridge University, academics, friends and family, and most importantly the huge amount of time and sacrifices of everyone on the team.
And at more practical engineering level it also taught me an invaluable lesson in engineering project management – choosing the right level of complexity and getting something simple running as early as possible! In hindsight we made some mistakes – some of our designs were far too complex – but I’m pleased that we did, and were able to take those lessons on into our engineering careers.
Do you feel being part of CUER influenced what you do now?
Definitely. Ever since joining CUER I've been working on electric powertrains. The last 6 years at McLaren, first developing the McLaren P1 hybrid powertrain, then systems engineering for the
McLaren Honda Energy Recovery System (ERS) for Formula 1. And now I'm responsible for a new battery for Formula E, which will almost double the range of all the Formula E racing cars. So I’ve come full circle back to full-electric motorsport!
Endeavour (2009/2011) in Australia for the World Solar Challenge
What has impressed you most about the team since you left?
I've been very impressed by how the team continues to grow its support and facilities. Ultimately CUER should always be about giving students the opportunity to take on some exciting real engineering challenges and it looks like each year the team gets stronger. When we started out we just wanted to get a competitive car through the race in Australia – I’m so impressed now to see the team carving out a unique identity with a radical concept.
Do you think, 10 years on, that CUER is still relevant and worthy?
Absolutely. Some of today's biggest engineering challenges continue to be in the areas of energy efficiency, low carbon transportation and lower cost electric drive and battery systems. Being part of the team is the perfect grounding for taking on these challenges. And of course I'd love to see the Cambridge team fighting for the top spot at the World Solar Challenge!
What would you like to see the team do in the coming years?
I think the challenge is to keep innovating and giving students the opportunity to learn, and to make mistakes. There’s always a temptation to make the team more professional, more precisely tailored towards the goal of winning in Australia, but it’s so important to keep a team mindset where someone can come up with a crazily ambitious idea and get the support to make it reality.