Coventry 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.