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Alumnus of the month - November 2009

Matthew Griffin
BSc (Hons) in Computer Aided Engineering, 2007

Matthew Griffin

Following ones passion despite setbacks marks Matthew Griffin as our Alumni of the Month. Through determination Matthew's return to higher education at LSBU has led him to be a CFD (computational fluid dynamics) engineer developing a car for a new Formula 1 team.

Throughout his career with Wirth Research (WR), Matthew has worked on a number of projects including cars for the Indy Racing League & Formula 3.

The company's reputation has earned them the opportunity to enter Formula 1 alongside the new Virgin Racing team.

Matthew states

We see this project as a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the quality of our work, increase our range of technology and engineering capacity to the benefit of all our existing and potential clients beyond Formula 1.

After three years with Wirth Research and 20 years after watching Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, Matthew finds he is now a senior CFD engineer working on a number of projects including the Virgin Racing car. The experience is constantly challenging and drives him to continually innovate. Matthew wouldn’t want it any other way!

Matthew states

I don't often look back, but when I do I often think about how lucky I am to be doing something I've always wanted to do. Had I not had the support from LSBU to help me to rebuild my confidence after failing at an earlier attempt I’m sure things would have turned out differently.

Matthew graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Aided Engineering in 2007, but this only tells a small part of his journey to his achievement.

2009 championship winning LMP1 car 2009 championship winning LMP1 car

Like most ten year old boys, Matthew loved cars and with excitement watched the heroes of Formula 1 on the television at the start of the 1990s. Once again like most young boys he realised he was not likely to be a grand prix driver and instead switched his ambitions to designing F1 cars.
Matthew admits to not initially believing he was a brilliant academic and repeatedly struggled with his first attempt at University. Finding his 4 years at Brunel University a struggle, he left without his desired degree.

Despite this major setback he went on to join Nissan (in Cranfield) as a modern apprentice in their CAD (computer aided design) group. Nissan provided Matthew with both on and off the job training with numerous opportunities to design components using 3D CAD.

Following this valuable experience he gained a HND and worked with the aerodynamics team to develop the Nissan Qashqai SUV compact car. This team was led by another former LSBU student. Matthew took the chance to develop his expertise in the design and manufacture of wind tunnel components and the preparation of CAD data for CFD.

It became apparent to Matthew that whilst he was involved in many exciting projects and obtaining a wealth of work experience, he desired and understood the importance of having a degree to further his career.

Matthew searched for a flexible part time degree course that would allow him to continue his work. The BSc (Hons) Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) course offered by LSBU opened him to a range of CAE applications beyond CAD and CFD.

Matthew states

When I started the course it felt like unfinished business from Brunel University. I genuinely believe that this course helped me to rebuild my confidence in my academic ability. The flexibility of the course and the systems that LSBU put in place for distance learning were absolutely brilliant, as were the lecturers. Crucially this flexibility allowed me to complete my course whilst working at the same time. For my final year project I conducted a CFD based study on the LSBU E-pod where considerable drag reductions were found.

During his final year at LSBU, Matthew left Nissan and started a career as a wind tunnel model designer at Wirth Research (WR).

Wirth Research (WR) is an innovative engineering group specialising in research, development, design and manufacture for the motor racing industry and other high technology sectors. The company uses advances in virtual engineering technology, developed within Wirth Research, enabling simulated testing and vehicle development so reducing the need for costly and wasteful prototype manufacture.

At that time the company’s efforts were focused on designing and developing a Le Mans prototype car for Honda to race in American Le Mans Series (ALMS) LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2 ) class under their Acura brand name. The car scored a class victory in its first race.

After 6 months, he took on a duel role of design engineer for WR and CFD engineer in WR’s CFD department (WR Digital). In his design role Matthew used the Siemens NX CAD software to create mainly composite components. The CFD role required him to use an array of meshing (process of creating computer models for computational fluid dynamics) and post processing tools to investigate complex fluid flow problems.

Whilst at WR Digital, Matthew has played a key role in perfecting the CFD techniques that set the company apart from everyone else and enables them to validate full-scale aerodynamic test components prior to race application.

The growing reputation of WR has allowed Matthew the chance to spend time with one of the company’s race team clients and attend a race with them in Connecticut - USA.

Matthew states

It was a brilliant experience to talk to the team and the drivers to find out what they like and what we could improve on the car.

The company’s second year in the ALMS championship brought continued success and they were within a single point of wining the manufacturer’s championship. More importantly it galvanised their reputation within the industry for building quick and reliable race cars.

For the third year of the championship their attention turned to the premier LMP1 division of the ALMS. Their LMP1 car won the 2009 championship and is the first racing car developed entirely in CFD. The fact that this car is enjoying such success is a testament to the processes applied to their CFD in conjunction with our other simulation technologies and their continuing commitment to development in the digital domain.

For more information on Wirth Research or WR Digital go to