New Siemens Ambassador Frank Brandau sent us the story of how he was 'hooked' by Bloodhound, and his experience of inspiring young people in Switzerland. Read his story below ....
After more than a decade working as a consultant, countless presentations given and being used to standing in front of people, be it engineers, scientists, economists and managers of all kinds and levels, I encountered something special today. My audience consisted not of businessmen but of kids and I was not talking about business solutions, but about an exciting adventure. And there it was again, stage fright, a feeling long since forgotten. Still, a marvellous experience. I have been given the opportunity to present the Bloodhound SSC endeavour to 33 kids from a Swiss school and it was one of the most rewarding moments in a long time.
It began a couple of weeks before, while I prepared our yearly customer event. We decided for the Verkehrshaus in Luzern, the Swiss Museum of Transport, as the location and I had to select an example for my presentation which was both inspiring and fitting this environment. After some investigation, I found the Bloodhound SSC project in our customer database and was amazed by what I found. Actually, in the beginning I spent more time reading about this project than preparing the presentation. And I started to think about how Bloodhound could possibly utilize our solution portfolio to some greater extend and what benefit might be really in stock for them - but this is another story.
The presentation was a success, most of it owed to the car I could weave my story around. And I had to repeat it in Austria for their customer day. And there, I met Dan Johns, a senior engineer in the Bloodhound SSC team, who was invited to give a keynote presentation. First, I had to present our solution with the Bloodhound SSC as an example, then Dan took over and talked about the Bloodhound itself. Not only was that big time fun, but I was fascinated by what he could tell the audience. Afterwards, I started to dig deeper into the topic and on one occasion, I used Dan's presentation to motivate a kid I gave private lessons in math and physics. End of story, the kid's father is a teacher, he talked about this to his colleagues and they invited me to give this presentation again in front of their kids just before they leave for summer break. And I had no inclination to pass on that opportunity, knowing even then that this would be a challenge of a different kind in a very positive sense.
I got in contact with the Bloodhound SSC team again and asked Dan, if I could use his presentation as a foundation for my own. Also, I learned about the Bloodhound Ambassador program and decided that I want to be the first Swiss Bloodhound Ambassador (although I do not really know whether there is already one in Switzerland). And I wanted to earn myself one of their Shirts. From the beginning on, everyone was extremely positive about all of this and I received a lot of insight to the program, helping me to prepare my presentation. Again, this presentation took more preparation time than I usually invest, mostly due to me reading about all of those interesting details. Sleeping is overrated anyway.
Then the day for the presentation arrived. I forgot to eat breakfast and arrived on site way too early, but I really wanted to ensure that everything would work as smooth as possible. I checked the presentation, especially the movies I embedded, numerous times and everyone was extremely friendly and hospitality was great, including a piece of cake which was certainly welcomed by my empty stomach.
Thinking back about my own time in school I was amazed that everyone arrived on time (well, not only Swiss Watches are most famous for their precision!). After some very nice introduction by one of the teachers I started my presentation, building up tension and tried to visualize what 1000mph really means by building up a couple of examples starting from the Swiss speed limit. Within my presentation, I had some questions where the kids could win one of the memory sticks I brought along, with my presentation on it in PDF format. It was amazing, not only were they all participating, but their answers have been right on target, e.g. the winning guess to the output power of the APU was really quite close to the 800bhp of the formula one engine. And their questions have been great, having seen Hakskeen Pan flooded in one of my slides, they asked what would happen if the Bloodhound SSC would hit a puddle of water. Together, we calculated the Power of the car in bhp using top speed and the given thrust of the engines on a flipchart, with the intention to show them that learning all those formulae in school has some real application in life. It really helped that before of the event, the teachers used some examples concerning the car for their lessons as well - e.g. from what altitude you have to drop the car to achieve the same record speed (not counting aerodynamic resistance). Simply said, it was great fun, not only for me (as I enjoyed all of that tremendously), but they were obviously mesmerised as well.
Driving home in my really not-quite-like-the-Bloodhound car, I felt great and I still do. I will continue to use the Bloodhound as a story in my presentations and I will certainly never forget to mention the fin program, but apart from business, there is one very prominent question lurking in my mind... which school is next?