Category Archives: female students

Inspirational Nicole wins her dream career

nicoleCoventry University graduate, Nicole Agba, has won the prestigious Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award for her innovative biometric steering wheel concept. NB: She is the only female in the photo.

Nicole’s ‘Steer Right’ system employs a Smart Fabrics Interactive Textile on the steering wheel of the car, using sensors that monitor the driver’s heart and respiration rates, fatigue, anger or nervousness.

If put into production, the steering wheel would even detect alcohol in the driver’s system, immobilising the vehicle if they are over the limit.

Announced as winner at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) dinner in November 2014, Nicole will now embark on a five-month work experience tour of Award sponsors Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota. She also wins a cash prize of £7,500.

Nicole, 23, from Rainham in Kent, said:

“I’m ecstatic to have won! It’s such a unique experience; I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to be a part of it. Not only am I thrilled to be the first female recipient of the Award, I hope my success inspires others who might ever have been told they cannot do something, to look at my example and not be afraid to chase their dreams. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”

Agba, who graduated from Coventry University with a degree in Transport Design in May, was one of three finalists who made it to the SMMT dinner; the other two were fellow students Freddie Lee and Serge Kaldany, whose entries were an app which alerts drivers to the presence of cyclists in the blind spot and a gaming console-inspired control system.

Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley, also the chairman of the judging panel, said:

“Once again we have been bowled over by the calibre of the entries received for this year’s competition, making Nicole an all the more deserved winner.

“The judging process has once again been fascinating and I’ve learnt that you can’t make assumptions about people. Sometimes you see an idea on paper and think you’ve got the person pegged but then they bring their idea to life and you realise you didn’t have them worked out at all.

“This award was set up with the hope of finding and nurturing bright new talent and it has now touched thousands of people. I’d like to think that, from next year, we can expand on what the Award does and open it up to more people still, but how we do that has not yet been decided.”

Courland International Chief Operating Officer, Adam Pumfrey, said:

“Despite operating predominantly at board level for the automotive industry, it has become clear to us for some time that we’ve struggled to attract younger candidates. We support this Award because its focus is on uncovering fresh young talent and highlights the fantastic range of careers open to those with a passion for automotive business.”

I’d like to add FOXY’s ongoing support for this Award because it is now reaching the right young females who will start to motivate others to consider the many wonderful career opportunities in the UK automotive industry.

An industry that needs many more Nicoles with a view to the future!

Congratulations Nicole – this is a remarkable and well deserved accolade made all the more sweet for me because you are the first female to win this highly competitive Award.


PS: Applications for the 2015 Autocar Courland Next Generation Award will open early next year. For more information, visit Autocar Next Generation Award.

High Wycombe school wins Hyundai business award

nicola_magneatThe female winners of Hyundai’s second ‘Best Business Enterprise’ award were presented with their trophy by 2012 Summer Olympics Gold Medal winner, Nicola Adams MBE.

The boxer made a special appearance at the Hyundai Training Academy in High Wycombe, answering questions on boxing and her famous victories at the London Games.

The winning team was called Magneat, formed and run by 13 pupils from Holmer Green Senior School in Buckinghamshire. The team developed and brought to market a dashboard tidy that uses friction bubbles to securely hold possessions such as mobile phones or wallets on the car’s fascia, reducing driver distraction. Having seen off stiff competition from five other teams, Magneat and runners-up Fun Learning 4 U (The Highcrest Academy) will travel to Frankfurt, Germany to participate in the European Skills for the Future competition.

Magneat overcame a number of challenges to bring their product to market, including changing supplier. The team’s marketing and advertising activities included a radio interview and adverts, as well as social media activation including Twitter. They have sold their ‘dashboard tidy’ at four events and the team says it plans to sell it at further events in June.


Tony Whitehorn, CEO of Hyundai Motor UK, commented: “I was very impressed by the creativity, determination and business savvy shown by all teams contesting the second Hyundai Best Business Enterprise competition. What struck me most was the degree to which social media and digital platforms were used in the teams’ marketing communications. It’s exciting and encouraging to see the huge potential of young people being realised through Hyundai’s Skills for the Future initiative.”

Charlotte Arpino James, Managing Director of Magneat, said: “We have learnt so much from Best Business Enterprise, especially about how to motivate each other and communicate effectively.” The team’s Operations Deputy Manager, Maddie Hanson, added: “I think the biggest lessons we’ve learned are about the importance of teamwork and self-belief.”

The Best Business Enterprise award is part of Skills for the Future, a collaboration programme between Hyundai and Young Enterprise that aims to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in today’s highly competitive job market.

The teams competing in 2014 Best Business Enterprise (project names in brackets) were: Magneat, Holmer Green Senior School (winners); Fun Learning 4 U, The Highcrest Academy (Runners-up); Alliance, The Highcrest Academy (3rd place); Are We There Yet?, John Colet School; Team Gear, Nether Stowe High School; and Cwmni Ifanc, Aberdare Girls’ School.

Well done to all. It’s great to see a female team winning on this occasion.


NB: The winning Magneat team from Holmer Green Senior School in Buckinghamshire included: Charlotte Arpino James, Managing Director; Madeleine Hanson, Secretary Manager; Amy Kershaw, Operations Deputy Manager; Surmand Rehman, Sales Manager; Tara Pinhorn, Finance Manager (all present at awards ceremony); Lucy Ogle, Operations Manager; Charlotte Landon, Deputy Managing Director; Maxine Arpino James, Secretary Deputy Manager; Kyle Quin, IT Manager; Hannah Gatfield, Marketing Manager; Elle Weddell, Human Resources Deputy Manager; Gabriella Mash, Marketing Deputy Manager; and Sophie Allison, Human Resources Manager.