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Staff Spotlight: Jonathan Hodgson, Senior Consultant Engineer

The Randle team have been delivering engineering solutions to clients around the world for over 25 years. In the Staff Spotlight series, we’re speaking to some of the team to learn more about what it’s like to work at Randle and how they started their careers.

Meet Jonathan, Senior Consultant Engineer at Randle

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a mechanical engineer with an interest in all things vehicular, from tractors to trains. I like my cars to be RWD (although at the moment I drive a FWD plug-in hybrid), and I raced R/C cars for many years. These days I do some sim racing on-line, which is easier to fit in around family commitments. I also help to fix things as a volunteer at a local Repair Café, help at a local miniature railway, and regularly enjoy cruising the canals with a group of friends.

How long have you worked in the business?

I joined Randle in Spring 2023.

What’s your background/experience?

After completing a degree in Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University, I joined Ricardo’s graduate programme and progressed over the next 20+ years to Chief Engineer, designing transmissions initially for motorsport and then for roadgoing and off-highway vehicles.

My experience covers the full design process from concept, through component design and analysis, to detail drawings and prototype build support. I have knowledge of many adjacent areas such as manufacturing, electric machines, batteries, software and controls.

How did you come to start working at Randle?

Although I hadn’t been looking to move, the role at Randle presented an opportunity to broaden my skills into different areas (and to revive my long-standing interest in suspension and handling) that was too interesting to turn down! I’m thoroughly enjoying my new role and am proud to be part of such a capable team.

Tell us a bit about your current role at Randle

What are your key responsibilities?

Essentially anything that’s required to deliver the project! On several of my projects I’ve worked on what we call Target Setting, which is where we calculate what suspension characteristics are required to give the vehicle-level ride and handling behaviour that we want, and Performance Review, where conversely we analyse a vehicle’s suspension parameters to predict how it will ride and handle. I’ve loved getting involved in some of the more varied and unusual design challenges that Randle take on from time to time – as well as finding opportunities to make use of my transmissions experience.

What skills does someone need to be great in this job?

A good grasp of maths and physics/engineering principles, with the ability to relate and apply these to how things actually behave in reality. Curiosity is crucial, and an ability to step back and see the bigger picture is really important too.

What does a typical day in your role look like?

Depending on what stage of a project I’m at, a mixture of discussions with the client, working on analyses, or writing up the results into a clear and concise presentation. Sometimes there are really interesting technical conversations about a particularly tricky challenge.

What’s the culture like at Randle?

Always focused on the challenge at hand, but also friendly with little hierarchy, and very open discussions.

What three words would you use to describe Randle and your experience working here?

Friendly, rigorous, knowledgeable

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on or your favourite part of the job?

The variety of applications – already I’ve worked on a tractor, a van, and a sports car!

How do you become an engineer?

By being interested in how things work, and how you can apply that interest and knowledge to solve problems. Ultimately engineering is done with numbers, so you need a good grounding in maths and physics, but hands-on experience making things, taking them apart or fixing them is also really valuable. I took the academic route via a university degree, but an apprenticeship can be a great way in too depending on the sort of person you are.

What’s next for you? What are your career goals?

I love exploring the challenges that engineering presents, so I hope to continue applying my technical skills wherever possible. I want to further broaden my design skills and vehicle dynamics knowledge, perhaps including subjective vehicle testing to relate back to the analyses.