Name: Alexander Uliczka
Age: 22 years old
Dream Career: Test & Development/Race Engineer
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:
Greetings to all the car fanatics and motorsports enthusiasts who, such as myself, follow Formula Careers on a regular basis. Firstly, I would like to proudly introduce myself to everyone reading this article and hope that you enjoy this short story of my journey to finding F1. My name is Alex Uliczka, and I am a 22-year-old motorsport enthusiast from Germany. I believe that we as humans have two extremely important days within our lifetime: “the day we are born and the day we discover why”, (Mark Twain). In life, I like to think that knowing in which direction we move in can be very important in order to achieve success, this can be anything from starting your own business, to just growing as an individual mentally and physically. Just like creating success in life, there are many stages, teams and series involved when focusing on the cosmos of motorsports and automobiles. The day I found out why I was here was the day I knew that I had to achieve my dream of becoming a Race Engineer.
Tell us about your journey so far:
Going back to the beginning (2003), my journey started at my father’s apartment, watching F1 with him through a little box sized television that he had owned. This was the very first time I ever heard and saw a F1 car. The roaring sound of the V10 directly caught my attention, along with a very talented driver named Michael Schumacher, who is now praised as one of the all-time greats in the sport. Seeing him on the podium with thousands of Tifosi at joy, I knew that my fire for motor racing had ignited.
Not long after I started drawing cars, learning different model names, and becoming addicted to cars in general. Other kids would always change their opinions on what they wanted their dream job to be, some would say a Football Player one day then an Actor the next, others would go back and forth with a Police Officer or Firefighter as they couldn’t make up their mind but for me it was always so simple after that first F1 experience at my father’s apartment, I always wanted to be a car designer and nothing ever really made me think twice about it.
As the years passed by, I had finally begun high school and as a young teenager I had unfortunately started to struggle with the concept of revising for subjects that I had no clear interest in. Most would think for a child who knew that they wanted to be an engineer in the motorsport’s world, would be very focused on their studies and excelling in all their subjects whilst in high school, however, this was not the case for me. Back then, if I had no interest in learning about a certain topic then I found it very difficult to force myself to revise and study on these certain subjects, this problem would then lead to a knock-on effect on subjects that I did actually enjoy such as mathematics but would not care enough to improve my grades as all my subjects felt like they were blurred and mixed with one and other. Soon after my grades began to go downhill and my aspiration of becoming a racing car designer faded for the first time since I was a child.
Even though high school was a struggle, I was able to push through and successfully enrol in my bachelor studies of “International Business” at Fontys University Of Applied Sciences. After high school, I was not entirely sure about which path I wanted to go down, I didn’t even know if studying in general was the right thing for me at the time. However, I decided to study International Business, as I believed it can open doors and get me into contact with people from all over the world, as well as the opportunity to study or work abroad for a semester or year.
During my time at university, many of my fellow students and friends would always laugh and taunt me, telling me that I had studied the wrong subject, as during my lunch breaks, I would hold monologues and explain to them how turbochargers or superchargers work. I knew that even though I was not actually studying engineering, it was something that I was planning on slowly merging myself into, as this was always the end goal.
My fellow students during lunch breaks after I was done talking about cars!
In my fifth semester, I got an internship in Munich where I worked for a grocery market consultancy. This was the first time I have ever had to leave home and live fully independent on my own. The time in Munich was undoubtedly valuable to me, as it truly opened my eyes and made me realise that if there is a full lifetime of work lying ahead for me, then it must be done by doing something I love deeply and not something that is just helping me get by. At that point in my life, I decided that I only want to work in the automotive industry for the rest of my career.
In 2019 I took another leap forward and decided to use one of the benefits that my International Business course had, which was studying abroad for a semester. This was now the very first time I lived abroad in another country and had to adapt to a completely new lifestyle in comparison to the one that I was currently used to.
Milan, Italy. was where I was able to build a lot of international friendships which I still cherish till this day and communicate with on a daily basis. The Italian culture did have something mesmerising about it. The food, drink, and fashion where all so particular and stood out in their own special way, which was delightful to experience, but for me the real beauty within Italy, was having the opportunity to travel and visit to automotive centres that are famously known worldwide for their fierce motor racing reputation and luxurious lifestyle, such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Alfa, Pagani and Monza.
After living the Italian lifestyle for a semester, I applied for multiple positions day and night allowing me to finally land my first automotive job. I got offered a position at Toyota Motor Europe to do an internship within their Product Management department in Brussels. At the time, the COVID-19 pandemic had just been made a global matter by the WHO organization and had become a true challenge when preparing for my thesis as I was still studying in higher education and now trying to balance my new job with Toyota out. However, having said that, with a lot of hard work and support from Toyota, I was finally able to complete my thesis and graduate from university. The thesis that I had conducted consisted of the product planning for a special edition of a Toyota model… finally, I had been able to leave a mark inside the automotive industry just as I always wanted too.
At this point graduating was possibly the largest part of my journey so far. I had managed to put my foot through the door and diversify into the automotive world, of course it was still only the business and management side of the automotive industry and not an actual engineering job, but I knew how far I had come and that this would soon quickly change by the end of the year if I was willing to put in the work and become more practical than just theory.
Current commitment to motorsport
Most times in life things click, after putting in a large amount of work, after all my efforts in university and with my internship at Toyota, I applied for a master’s degree and successfully got accepted for studying “automotive engineering and management” at the University of Duisburg-Essen, which thankfully is quite present in the automotive industry. Since this master’s program usually aims at industrial engineers, I needed to complete a premaster, consisting of mechanical engineering courses first. Right now, I am currently working on finishing the premasters by the end of summer. Thus, making me proficient in a variety of engineering disciplines such as mechanics, electrical engineering, CAD, control engineering, systems dynamics, material sciences and many more.
I decided to move out from home, and fully be independent with my own life. I felt that I had already spent most of my time living on my own in different cities in the past 2 years so it would not feel much different to do so now. I managed to secure a working student position inside the automotive industry with Deutsche Leasing Group. There, I was given the responsibility to lead my own project towards electric mobility integration, whilst assisting in any daily business activities. The best thing about the job is that you work with every car brand there is and get to know each detailed product line-up, which I really appreciate.
Furthermore, my university shows their automotive incentives by having a formula student team, called “E-Team Duisburg-Essen”. Inside the team, I help work with the Cost Report department. My main responsibility is tracking all costs from different assemblies to adjust processes. I am also asked to make strategic decisions whether to internally make or externally buy certain components. The overview of the costing as well as the engineering side of our department allows us to work closely with other engineers to discuss any future improvements on the car and prioritize the upgrades. This year’s new season will allow us to present a race car and its associated costs, as well as innovations in front of the Formula Student Jury. This will be judged by the jury to determine the overall feasibility of our racing team.
From a formula student perspective, I want to continue for at least another season with my team, until finishing my master’s degree. I am really looking forward to our team racing in Italy and Andorra (if possible) and doing the best we can. Inside the team, I see myself becoming more technical and getting involved in the development of the racing car for the next coming year. . In my opinion, the active involvement in the building process will be an experience, you can only get in Formula Student. You start by creating the first CAD models, while afterwards, running several analyses such as FEM or CFD on the component. Finally, you build the ready part and assemble it to the vehicle. Where else would you be able to do all of this on your own and in a racing environment? You are pretty much already working as a race engineer inside Formula Student. I like to call it a “baby F1” and I think it will prepare me well for the real deal.
A good solid plan will allow me to finish my premasters this summer and hopefully the entire automotive program by the end of 2022. I will outsource as much as I can to find yet another internship, best possibly as a graduation placement including a thesis. Ideally, this placement would be inside motorsports or automotive. I want to use my engineering experience gained inside the Formula Student team as well as the master’s program and have it tested in a business environment. Every work placement so far has been more or less on the business side, but as an industrial engineer, you have the opportunity to go either direction and get more practical and hands-on if need be.
Planning life is never easy, I think life is like a marathon, and certainly not a sprint, so you should take your time and go with what flows best for you. As of right now, there are three goals I have set for myself. The first possibility is to start working. If I find an interesting placement inside the motorsports industry, such as research, testing and engineering. I think real work experience on a car in such a competitive environment could get myself a shot at F1. My second goal would be for me to pursue a PhD with engineering. For a couple of months now, I have been profoundly interested in mechanics as well as fluid dynamics, reading many books on the subject during my free time had me releasing that I could see myself researching for a PhD within this direction of mechanics. Lastly, my third goal set for my future self would be to completely expand and diversify my engineering knowledge to the next level by studying aeronautical engineering. Becoming fluent in every engineering detail on the highest level (with machines that could go supersonic) is something that really fascinates me, but of course everything takes time if it is to be completed with near perfection, we shall see what the future holds within due time.
What inspiration would you like to share?
In conclusion, if I could advise the future generation on something, it would be to fully commit to what you love doing and always be eager to learn and develop. I think you can learn from everybody, so it is important to keep an open mind and have a strong work ethic and attitude to getting outside of the comfort zone and seeking inspiration in places you normally would not, such as living in different cities or countries.
Furthermore, you should always strive to have the best education you can, but having said that you must remember, it is not just what you do during your time on the field but also how you learn and develop yourself at times off the field and in your free time. Be committed not to just motorsports or whatever your passion may be but to growing and learning as an individual in general, it can be as simple as reading a book or just surfing the internet for some more research. There will probably be a lot of people studying towards the same degree as you, so you must remember, it is important to stand out from the crowd.
Lastly, I would like everybody to feel more than welcome to add me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-uliczka-9a9aab158. Please feel free to get in contact with me to share thoughts, talk cars or just get in touch for the future. If you need any more information on Formula Student, I would be more than happy to help and I hope to meet some of you in a future F1 paddock. Remember: Keep working hard but enjoy the journey. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
“You don’t expect to be at the top of the mountain the day you start climbing.” – ex McLaren CEO, Ron Dennis
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