29 November 2022

Image of Old Kirkhamian, Jack Linley, Aerodynamicist for Scuderia AlphaTauri Formula One team

It is always wonderful to hear from our former pupils and find out about their life after KGS. Recently, OKA President, Mike Ward, caught up with Jack Linley, who left KGS in 2012, and is now an Aerodynamicist for Scuderia AlphaTauri Formula One team.

Strongest subject areas: maths, physics, chemistry, French

A Levels: maths, further maths, physics, chemistry

University: Bath (Mechanical Engineering – with industrial placement)

As far back as I can remember, there had never been any doubt in my mind where my academic strengths lay. Maths and physics always came naturally, but STEM subjects in general ended up being those which not only provided me with more enjoyment but triggered a desire to take the learning further. I was fortunate with the teachers I had in these subjects throughout the entirety of my education, and those at KGS were no exception.

Whilst I certainly enjoyed subjects in other areas such as French and history, my A'Level selection of maths, further maths, physics and chemistry was firm in my mind. Being encouraged to take some exams early with other capable students, and having the opportunity to partake in some additional structured sessions during lunch-time, did not seem important at the time. However, it helped to perpetuate the notion of continually striving to broaden my understanding of subject areas, and to go beyond the pure requirements of examinations.

Despite my certainty in terms of subject choice throughout school, I never had much of a committed direction for career path after leaving education. I can’t place exactly why this was, but it meant that I began the search for universities and degree titles feeling quite open-minded. As time wore on, the practical aspects of topics began to enthuse me more than those with a theoretical bias, which helped me to realise that engineering suited me more than something with a pure mathematical orientation. I was fortunate enough to achieve the entry requirements to attend the University of Bath in September 2012, which had been my first choice institution, primarily because of its strong industrial links and good levels of funding to related societies…though my parents would always claim I just wanted to put as much distance between us as possible.

I had enjoyed the spectacle of Formula One for years throughout my youth, relishing the Sunday afternoons watching races with my Dad, but had never considered for one second that one day I could be employed within the sport. When the time came to explore industrial placement opportunities, various teams promoted different available roles within their technical staff. Not expecting much to come of it, I applied and was staggered when I was successful in securing the year-long placement within Scuderia Toro Rosso’s (now Scuderia AlphaTauri) Aerodynamics Department.

The steep learning curve was no surprise, and only made me more certain that such a technical challenge was how I wanted to start my professional life. After graduating in 2017, I returned to the team on a full-time basis as an Aerodynamicist and have been there ever since, working to develop the aerodynamic performance of many areas across the car. This job is so multi-faceted that summarising it in a few lines is tough to say the least, but my primary function is to optimise the design of all parts of the car which contact the air to generate as much of an improvement to lap time as possible. The cutting-edge technology within the industry never ceases to amaze, and striving for infinitesimal margins each day helps to keep all of us working hard towards a common goal.

Aside from the technical responsibilities, since joining on a permanent basis I have managed the recruitment of undergraduate students from universities across the world to take part in the same year-long placement that I enjoyed in 2014/15. It is no small undertaking, but is so rewarding to see enthusiastic, creative, brilliant young people join the team each year, knowing I have played a part in bringing their dreams to life. Many re-join the team on a permanent basis when they graduate, but there are so many other avenues that become more open when gaining this kind of experience within industry.

For anyone who feels aspects of this piece resonates with them, I would certainly encourage you to pursue the subjects you’re passionate about to the best of your ability; never underestimate where hard work can get you, and take any opportunity you have to obtain experience of the real world - as much as anyone could describe Formula One as the real world!

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’d be surprised if there was a more challenging and intense way to have spent my first decade since leaving KGS in 2012

Jack Linley (KGS: 2005 – 2012)



Tags: OKA 2022-2023 Careers