We are delighted to formally announce that Dr Melanie Michon has joined Motor Design Ltd as Head of Engineering. Melanie looks after MDL’s grant-funded research projects and manages our engineering team, who work closely with customers to ensure Motor-CAD meets their motor design needs. Joining us from her previous position as Head of Electrification at Romax Technology, Melanie’s extensive industry experience, electrical engineering background and technical expertise gives her fantastic insight into the electrification industry and we welcome her to the team.
Read our interview with Melanie below.
Can you tell us about your background?
MM: I am from the Netherlands originally and did my bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering there before being offered a Research Associate position at the University of Sheffield, with the option to do a PhD. I have worked on a wide range of electrical engineering topics. I started off working with Philips on power electronics for lighting applications. I then moved to Sheffield where I did my PhD on electrical energy recovery from exhaust gases in a vehicle application. Following this I worked for several years on renewable energy during the wind boom. When electrification and e-mobility kicked off I was working at Romax Technology, so I got heavily involved in developing solutions for electric vehicles. Romax are a mechanical engineering company and they wanted me to help transform them into an electromechanical engineering company. During my time there I built up an electrical engineering team from scratch and established a centre of excellence for electrification.
Why did you choose to join MDL?
MM: I felt it was time for a new challenge, and MDL provides this. MDL is fast-growing, and at the forefront of developing new technology and software in the booming area of electrification in e-mobility. So this is a very exciting environment to work in, with an excellent team of people. I also fancied getting back to my roots of electrical engineering, so it is great to be surrounded by electrical machine designers again.
Can you tell us about your new role?
MM: I am Head of Engineering at MDL and I manage the engineering team. My role has a number of different aspects—I look after the grant-funded projects and the research related to that, look for new business opportunities to grow the company, and with the team will also provide technical account management for our key customer accounts.
On the research side of things, we have some good projects ongoing. The Virbius project, an Innovate UK funded collaborative project led by Jaguar Landrover, is basically about pushing the limits of 48V hybrid technology. This collaboration allows us to work on state-of-the-art motor design and do a lot of new development on Motor-CAD software, in terms of thermal modelling in particular. Then there is an EU funded project called ReFreeDrive, which is looking at alternative technologies to rare earth magnets. For that, we have designed several motors—again state-of-the-art specification—and we’re working as part of a big EU consortium with several universities and several companies, which is a really great environment to maintain and extend collaborations across Europe. Overall, we participate in the grant-funded projects because they are intended to push the current state of the art in machine design. They allow us to, first of all, to keep up with what is happening in the field and they then allows us to develop the software, because Motor-CAD will have to keep up with all these new trends as well.
The account management aspect of my role is a good new challenge that I will take on with the team. We want customers to have the best support that they can get, and our engineers are big experts in the field and can provide that support. So we want to maintain regular contact between the engineer and the customer, understanding our customers’ needs and requirements, and seeing if there is any joint development that the customer wants to do with us. It is about building that relationship: we get valuable feedback and the customer gets very well looked after.
And finally, what drew you into engineering in the first place?
MM: I was not really looking at engineering at first, but I think it was the problem-solving aspect that drew me to it. And I have always liked the physics and maths side of things. I enjoy the balance between understanding complex technical issues, fitting this to the ‘big picture’ business strategy, and successfully delivering and commercialising a solution. So, I don’t think I am your ‘typical engineer’ in that respect, but I really enjoy working with expert engineers solving challenging problems and helping our customers in doing so.