One of the things we really like about being based in Cambridge (UK) is that it's a city full of engineers and cyclists, and that there is a lot of overlap between the two.
Members of the community have often helped us to solve tricky engineering problems, ranging from material science to obscure bike industry standards, so we always enjoy it when we can help others.
This mutual support has been perfectly realised over the past couple of years by the student engineering interns who have joined FLIT from the University of Cambridge's Institute for Manufacturing. One of these students, Toby Lane, has joined us for three stints in total, taking on roles from prototyping, to sourcing, design for manufacturing, and business model analysis. This has taken place mostly in Cambridge, but Toby also joined Dave, our Technical Lead, on a trip to Taiwan to attend the 2019 Taipei Cycle trade show and visit our manufacturing partner.
Toby's notes are always on point!
Here's what Toby had to say:
Having worked a little with Flit in the summer of 2018, I was asked to join them on a trip to Taiwan in spring 2019 to attend the Taipei Cycle trade show and visit some of their manufacturing partners.
As anticipated this was a fascinating trip which very few university students will ever be afforded the opportunity of experiencing; for this I am incredibly grateful.
While at Taipei Cycle, I helped Dave to source components according to a brief that had been developed by the whole FLIT team, and was also tasked with checking out the latest developments in the ebike sector and reporting back to the rest of the team. We were particularly interested to learn more about current connectivity systems for ebikes as FLIT has plans to use this tech to develop new capabilities for their ebikes in the future.
After the show, I visited a couple of supplier factories with Dave where we met the engineering teams to inspect parts that had been fabricated for FLIT's latest batch of prototypes. We brought a 3D printed 1:1 scale model of the FLIT-16 (known as "the rig") with us from the UK to aid discussions. It was really interesting to see this part of the process where prototype parts were inspected for tolerances and tested on the rig for fit and function. By the end of the trip we had given the go-ahead for the full prototypes to be built.
Toby inspecting prototype parts at the frame factory
On returning from Taiwan I continued my internship at Flit, where my enhanced understanding of the industry and marketplace helped my work immeasurably. Being able to work at such an early-stage startup is a truly fascinating experience. I have learned an enormous amount about what it takes to launch and run your own company and have been able to contribute in many areas of the business that I would never have dreamt of otherwise.
Overall this internship has been a remarkable experience that has provided me with far more than I could have hoped for. Above everything, being able to work across and experience all the different areas of Flit’s business has given me exposure to a great range of jobs, which has been instrumental in helping me decide what kind of work I want to go into after university. I certainly would not have achieved this had I instead taken a more regimented internship at a much larger firm, or if I had gone straight into a full-time job.
I was only able to make the most of this incredible opportunity through funding from Santander who, together with contributions from FLIT and my college, were able to pay for my expenses to travel out to Taiwan as part of a longer internship.
Tet riding ebikes after Taipei Cycle
We loved having Toby around - his excellent engineering training combined with a natural sense of empathy for customers is a rare combination that is very valuable in product development. Just as importantly, he also brought a fresh perspective to everything we have been working on. Hopefully he saw a couple of new things with us and picked up a few tips along the way.
Special thanks to Santander for helping to make this internship happen through its SME Internship programme. Without this kind of support, young companies like FLIT would not be able to create these exciting opportunities for young people like Toby.