In Formula 1, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are crucial to success on and off the track. At Haas F1 Team, prior to launching our 2017 livery and heading on track we wanted to pause and celebrate the people utilizing these disciplines who make all of our on-track progress possible. This week marks National Engineers Week, and the purpose is to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world while sparking interest in STEM-based careers to children and adults alike.
Thus a perfect time to sit down for 10 questions with our CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) department lead engineer, Charles Jenckes.
1. Where are you from and how did you begin at Haas F1 Team?
I am originally from New York City and Philadelphia. I was recruited by Haas F1 Team management in the very early days of the company to help build the CFD department.
2. Where did you go to school?
My last two degrees including a Ph.D. are from North Carolina State University, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
See more on the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering here: https://www.mae.ncsu.edu/.
3. How would you describe your job and how does your job translate to success on the track?
I am a team leader in the aerodynamic department. I am responsible for the CFD team that supports aerodynamic design. CFD provides a visualization tool that helps the aerodynamicists understand how the car moves through the air so that they can more effectively design the car.
4. What do you want people to know about your career?
It has been a dream of mine to work in F1 since my father took my family to see the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen when I was a child. It is an honor and a privilege to work for the first U.S.-based F1 team in over 30 years. I am especially proud of the fact that the sponsor of our team – Haas Automation – is a U.S.-based machine tool manufacturer that is a world leader in automation for manufacturing. Many people have the opinion that U.S. manufacturing is no longer able to compete globally. Haas Automation has proven this is not true. Our aero department relies on the quick turn around and accuracy of our U.S. machine shop to make parts for wind tunnel testing. All of these parts are manufactured on Haas machines. Haas is one of the few automation manufactures which designs and builds their own controllers. All made in the U.S.! The first CNC machine I ever worked with was a Haas vertical mill.
5. What is your favorite aspect of the job?
6. How does Haas F1 Team benefit from having the CFD department based in the United States?
CFD is an advanced technology which has a constantly changing state of the art. U.S. universities are world leaders in this technology. We maintain close ties with several academic institutions which allow our team at Haas to be aware of the latest advances.
7. How do you use STEM in your career?
Fluid mechanics, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, mathematics and advance numerical methods are the foundations of what I do. I try to always work from first principles when solving problems.
8. What was your favorite or most important subject in school?
My calculus courses, as well as thermodynamics and fluid dynamics.
9. What was your first job that relates to your current position?
I began working for road racing teams before I could drive. This is a photograph of me (Jenckes is pictured with his back to the door) helping prepare a car which won a championship in the top class of IMSA road racing in 1977. I have been a member of championship teams in IMSA, NHRA, SCCA and NASCAR.
10. Do you have any advice for kids who might want to follow your footsteps into F1?
Work hard in school. Grades are important. A Ph.D. in engineering or science is almost required today to even have access to an F1 career. We have thousands of applications from qualified people for every position, so it is natural that we will select those who excelled in school. It is also very important to have some motorsports experience at a basic level. Go-karting, working for a dirt late model team, road racing team or participation in Formula Student is a very important experience to have. The best path to a career in F1 is to have the basic motorsports experience in addition to strong academic performance.