Skip to main content

René was headhunted for his dream job through student project

When 25 year old René Brandbyge participated in a competition with the university student project SDU Vikings, where students build their own racing car, he got to talk with a talent scout from Mercedes. In September, he will begin at his dream job.

By Sebastian Wittrock, , 2/24/2023

When you hear a Formula 1 racing car roar and release well over 1,000 horsepower, and the smell of burnt tires and gasoline spreads, sustainability and climate are probably not the first things that come to mind.

But it should be.

At least, if you ask René Brandbyge. The 25-year-old engineer from Funen, Denmark has just graduated with a degree in electronics from the University of Southern Denmark and has been headhunted for a position at Mercedes AMG High Performance Power Trains. This is the department of the German car manufacturer that designs and produces Formula 1 engines.

Here, he hopes to contribute to the green transformation of the car industry. And how does that make any sense? 

- It is in Formula 1 that you can develop new technologies, the best of the best, and you can do it much faster than in the rest of the car industry, where you always have to cut costs. It may be that the technologies do not immediately find their way into ordinary cars, but breakthroughs often come that way, René Brandbyge says. 

For example, hybrid engines come from Formula 1, he says, as does the technology that captures excess energy when braking in newer cars. Today, most cars also have so-called Active Suspension, which adjusts the height of the chassis depending on the road to increase traction. This was also originally a Formula 1 technology.

- Formula 1 is also planning to reach net-zero and be carbon neutral by 2030, adds Brandbyge.

Talent scouts

René Brandbyge was offered the position at Mercedes when he was in England in the summer of 2022 with SDU Vikings, a student project consisting mainly of engineering students at the University of Southern Denmark who build their own electric racing car and compete in the Formula Student competition with it. At that time, Brandbyge was the chairman of the project.

- Especially Formula 1 teams use these competitions to scout for new employees. And there was this electronics guy from Mercedes who came over to us, we talked a bit, he asked about the car, and in the end he wanted to know how far I was in my studies, what my job situation was like, and if I was interested in working for them, says Brandbyge.

He was invited to an interview in Brixworth, where Mercedes AMG High Performance Power Trains is located, and shortly thereafter he accepted the job as Graduate Electronics Engineer.

A big investment

Although Brandbyge has not always been particularly interested in cars, he has long been technically interested, having gone to HTX. And coming from the countryside, he also bought an old Opel Corsa at an early age. But it was not until he became part of SDU Vikings that his interest in cw values, hub motors, and steering capabilities accelerated. 

For the uninitiated, one may wonder what an electronic engineer will do at a manufacturer that - at least for a few more years - produces combustion engines. But there is a lot of electronics in Formula 1 engines, assures Brandbyge, and there is also not much dirty workshop in the production halls.

- It is completely clinically clean, and you have to wear very specific clothing. There is also overpressure in the rooms so that no dust comes in.

Since it is a graduate position, he has the opportunity to try working in four different departments in Mercedes AMG High Performance Power Trains over the next two years.

- It's a big investment for them when they hire people like me because I won't be anywhere long enough to be a real value to them until after two years. Basically, all I have to do is to figure out where I prefer to be and what I'm best at, says Brandbyge.

And yes, he nods to the obvious question:

- It's a dream job. 

SDU Vikings

SDU Vikings is a voluntary student project at SDU where students build their own racing car and compete against other universities from all over the world in Formula Student. There is a conventional race, but the competition also has categories like economy and construction. SDU Vikings has existed since 2006, and even though it mainly consists of engineering students, students from all faculties and educational programmes are welcome.

Editing was completed: 24.02.2023