Tag Archives: engineering

UK motor sport careers for girls

Dare to Be Different karters at Daytona Sandown

Few of us know of or appreciate the vital economic contribution UK motor sports makes to our economy.

The last figures from the Motor Sports Association (MSA) tell us that in 2012, the UK motor sport engineering and services industry earned no less than £9 billion, having nearly doubled this turnover in a decade.

And that period included a long and tough recession.

Some 4300 companies are part of the motor sport industry and employ about 41,000 people with nearly 90 per cent of these businesses exporting worldwide. And, as you might expect, there is a particular focus on R&D with some firms spending more than 25 per cent of their annual turnover on development.

What is the most important resource in the motor industry?

Guess what resource is the most important to any ambitious industry and employer? It’s the human resource of course – the best talent there is on offer – regardless of gender, race and age.

Yes, motor sports is undoubtedly the sexy side of the motor industry (compared to working in a garage or selling car parts although each to their own) yet it has the same dilemma. That of getting its career message through to as many appropriately talented and ambitious females alongside the already open door for traditionally petrol-headed males – that girls can do and can enjoy a wide range of industry careers that have been previously thought of as no-go areas for them of old…

Getting the motor sports career message out to girls

A UK motor sports initiative to change this gender stereotype raced off the starting grid at Daytona Sandown Park on 13 April 2016 with 100 schoolgirls gaining an invaluable insight into every element of motor sport from driving and engineering to media skills, fitness and nutrition.

Founded by former Formula 1 driver Susie Wolff and the MSA, Dare To Be Different is a high-profile new initiative designed to inspire, connect and celebrate women in every aspect of motor sport. Following months of preparation Dare To Be Different’s first event took place at the state-of-the-art Daytona Sandown karting facility in Surrey, bringing together 100 girls from ten local schools.

Daytona provided Honda-powered 160cc Cadet and 200cc Junior karts for the girls to earn their racing spurs and compete in a tyre-changing pit-stop challenge, Williams sent along an F1 show car for technical tours and photo opportunities and Sky F1 presenter Natalie Pinkham taught the eager participants the tricks of the trade when it comes to interview etiquette.

Dare to Be Different hovercraft buildingNot only that, but ambassadors from national flagship programme STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) gave up their time to assist with a fun and educational hovercraft-building exercise.

In addition to all this, workshops on diet and fitness meant that each girl left with a comprehensive understanding of every facet of this fascinating sport – and as an official Dare To Be Different delegate.

Dare To Be Different Ambition

Former F1 racing driver Susie Wolff explained what the thought process is behind such an event.

“We want to see more girls coming into motor sport at grass-roots level, and karting is just one aspect of that. The breadth of potential careers within motor sport is immense, and to reflect that, beyond the karting we also offered the girls journalism and media presentation skills, hovercraft-building, fitness workshops and nutrition advice. Today is just the start of the Dare To Be Different journey – there’s so much more still to come.”

The MSA – the UK governing body of motor sport – was represented by its CEO Rob Jones, who added

“Motor sport is one of the very few sports in which women can compete at the same time and on equal terms as men – it offers a level playing field for everyone, and each event entails a phenomenal behind-the-scenes effort. By the same token, behind every driver are hundreds if not thousands of people working in different but equally essential areas of the sport.

“It was fantastic to have the Williams F1 car here. Claire Williams is the perfect role model to illustrate what women in motor sport can achieve. We hope that some of these girls will ultimately come to work in motor sport, be that as competitors or in some other professional capacity. That is the underlying aim of this campaign – to market and raise the profile of the career opportunities available within the sport – and what we saw today was a fantastic start.”

There are currently around 1,500 female MSA licence-holders in the UK which, whilst a significant number, represents only five per cent of all those competing in motor sport events throughout the country – a proportion that Dare To Be Different is eager to increase.

Dare To Be Different 2016 dates:

17 May, Nutts Corner, Crumlin, Northern Ireland
22 June, Daytona Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes
25 August, Knockhill Circuit, Fife, Scotland
15 September, Daytona Manchester, Manchester

To Find Out More

Here’s the Dare To Be Different MSA website details where these events will no doubt be announced at soon.

FOXY says:

This is a marvellous initiative and one I’d love to see as part of a Big Picture motor industry careers roadshow to sell the message of ALL motor industry careers to women. To women of all ages, including those that chose an early career in a more female friendly industry and who now could be tempted to bring their much needed business and customer service skills into automotive Boardrooms and senior management roles… As well as selling apprenticeship roles to young females and males alike.

But how marvellous to see Susie and Claire paying back – doing their bit to encourage other females into following in their impressive career footsteps. Two fantastic role models that WILL make a genuine difference to gender recruitment in UK motor sports in future.

And who knows… maybe a future spin off of Dare To Be Different might result in a new racing championship for females? As I see it, if women can have their own golf, tennis, swimming and team sports championships, why not a motor racing league for women too? Why wouldn’t we Dare To Be Different here as well?…


PS: Here’s what FOXY Lady Drivers Club does and how to join the club.

Rotary Racer rocks at Rockingham

Rotary Racer greenpower 2015

Working to encourage and promote sustainable engineering in tomorrow’s generation of engineers, the charity Greenpower Education Trust hosted its largest ever International Final at Rockingham on 10-11 October.

Students from 110 schools put the cars together themselves as part of an enhanced STEM education programme, and design their own bodywork using Siemens Solid Edge software. The sustainably-powered single-seaters all feature the same electric motor and 12 volt batteries supplied by Greenpower.

Rotary Racer in the photo (with Louise Barnaby alongside the car) was built by Chipping Sodbury School and won both IET Formula F24 races.

New to the Northamptonshire based track, this was the first time Greenpower’s International Final had been contested on the 1.48 mile American-style banked oval circuit.

Greenpower Education Trust CEO, Jeremy Way, said after the last race of the weekend: “There is nothing more inspiring than seeing all of our finalists proud to race their cars at the International Final, and witnessing the teams really working together in the true spirit of Greenpower.

“We hope that many of the participants competing here today will go on to pursue a future career in engineering – that’s the result we are looking for, and already have numerous graduates from the Greenpower programme working full time in the industry.”

Charity patron David Richards CBE, Chairman of Aston Martin and Prodrive, was at Rockingham to support the young racers, along with TV’s ‘face of technology’, Jason Bradbury.

The full 2015 International Final race results can be found here.

To Infiniti and an F1 career

Yasmin & Simon Le Bon plus Infiniti car
Yasmin and Simon Le Bon attending the RAA’s summer exhibition
The Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy is close to discovering the world’s next Formula One engineering stars, including three females within a field of twelve hopefuls.

Finalists will compete to win one of three work placements in the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy; a 12-month engineering role with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, including accommodation in the UK, an Infiniti company car and full salary.

This is a truly global challenge involving four Americans, three Chinese, two Australians, one British, a Malaysian and a Sudanese.

Their next step is a three-day shortlisting programme held at Infiniti’s European Technical Center at Cranfield and their Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes. They’ll face intensive interviews, practical tests and technical challenges, closely assessed by leading experts. The three winners will be unveiled by Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey on July 3rd.

Infiniti-Performance-Engineering-AcademyAdrian explained:

“The Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy is an exciting initiative for young engineering students to become inspired and realise their dream of working in the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One. Judging by the applications submitted, it is great to see so much passion and enthusiasm from our engineers of the future.”

The 2014 Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy finalists are:

Christien Blencowe, 25, from Melbourne, Australia (Engineering at Monash University)

Andrew Trathen, 22, from Melbourne, Australia (Engineering at Monash University)

Qin Li, 22, from Hunan, China (Vehicle Engineering at Tongji University)

Wei Zhao Zhang, 22, from Beijing, China (Engineering at Tsinghua University)

Yijia He, 22, from Sichuan Province in China (Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College in London)

Yoga Nadaraajan, 21, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (studies Electronics Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

William Priest, 23, from Exeter, UK (studies Mechanical Engineering at the University of Exeter).

Alejandro Diaz, 22, from Miami, Florida (studies Science in Mechanical Engineering at Florida International University)

Eric LaRoche, 25, from Hamilton Square, New Jersey, (studies Science in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park),

Jason Zide, 21, from Laguna Beach in California (studies Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California)

Austin Volk, 22, from Oregon (studies Science in Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University)

Alaa Ahmed, 23, from Sudan (studies Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Universiti Tenaga Nasional in Malaysia)

Infiniti Motor Company’s HQ is in Hong Kong with sales operations in some 50 countries. The Infiniti brand was launched in 1989 with premium car manufacturing facilities in Japan and the United States. Production facilities in China and Europe will follow soon.

Whilst it’s too late to enter this year, here are details of the 2015 competition. Challenging as well as the opportunity of a lifetime.

Ford inspires and rewards female engineering talent

Last month’s Perkins Review, published earlier this month, revealed that the UK has the lowest proportion of women engineering professionals in Europe, at under 10 per cent. And bearing in mind that young UK females are outperforming males at GCSE level in STEM subjects it’s clear that between school and career there is a female disconnect and UK engineering businesses could be missing out on half in not more of the most capable talent with a view to the future.

This is something that Ford recognised and started to tackle back in 2011 as part of their Blue Oval sponsorship programme, awarding 100 undergraduate students scholarships of £10,000 each, paid over a three year period. Of the initial 2012 group, 25 per cent were female scholars, and Ford is now supporting a targeted rise in female participation to 50 per cent as well as committing to a further 10 Blue Oval Scholarships a year in the longer term.


Taken in front of the Houses of Parliament after a meeting about this, the photo is of Barb Samardzich (centre), Ford of Europe Chief Operating Officer, current Blue Oval Scholar, Sophie Vanderspar (right), Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate at University of Southampton, and former Ford Craft Apprentice, Lauren Robinson (left), who is now a full-time Ford employee.

Keen supporter Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Engineering has a vital role to play in the future of British industry. But with just one in ten engineers being women, we are only tapping into a fraction of the talent available. During Engineering Week earlier this month, we announced £49 million of new money to address skills shortages in engineering. Working with companies like Ford who have a great record in the recruitment and long-term retention of women, we can inspire young women to consider a career in this growing industry and ensure they are properly represented in the workforce.”

This programme is jointly funded by Ford’s corporate foundation, the Ford Motor Company Fund and fits within Ford’s global initiative called “Operation Better World” creating measurable outcomes to do with education (focusing on STEM subjects), car safety, community needs and sustainability.

To find out more about Ford’s Blue Oval Scholarships visit http://www.ford.co.uk/experience-ford/AboutFord/Scholarships

The motor industry isn’t just for boys

Jaguar Land Rover is offering female students interested in engineering, technology and manufacturing careers a unique insight into the world of work at the UK’s largest luxury automotive manufacturer.

The ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers: Young Women in the Know’ course has been developed in partnership with Birmingham Metropolitan College to change outdated perceptions of engineering to encourage more young women to consider engineering and manufacturing careers.

The 28 female students, aged 16-18, are participating in a week-long programme of events this week at Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing, design and engineering sites in Gaydon, Whitley, Solihull and Castle Bromwich. They will meet other female apprentices, graduates, engineers and managers to find out about their education and career histories and will spend a day on work experience at the Solihull plant. They will also find out about Jaguar Land Rover’s apprentice and graduate schemes and participate in workshops on job applications, assessment centres and interview techniques.

Bob Joyce, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director, said: “Jaguar Land Rover offers a wide range of education programmes with the aim of getting young people excited about engineering and crucially, to encourage them to make the right subject choices at GCSE-level and beyond. The ‘Young Women In The Know’ course has been developed to encourage female students to consider engineering careers and we hope some of the students on the course today will join Jaguar Land Rover as engineers in the future.”

Danella Bagnall, Project Planning and Integration Director at Jaguar Land Rover, added: “I started my career as an apprentice 25 years ago which was a great way of continuing education, developing skills, and getting into industry.”

“I am now a senior engineering manager which demonstrates the excellent career progression opportunities available to women in a modern engineering-led business like Jaguar Land Rover.”

“It is a very exciting time to join our business. We are investing more than £2 billion a year in research and development and we need talented young people to deliver new technologies, new applications, new approaches and new ideas. I would thoroughly recommend a career in engineering to girls and hope this programme inspires lots more women to become engineers.”


We’d like to see more initiatives of this kind in the motor industry. This is such a great way to raise awareness levels about the range of exciting careers on offer for girls. Not just for girls to read about of course but also for teachers, career advisers and ambitious parents, many of whom seem to retain old-fashioned ideas about this industry which need challenging and updating.

To prove my point, I suggest you visit the AutoCity careers website and the World of Work and listen to over 150 people about their careers. There is a real need for more women at all levels (starting in the Boardroom I must say) to reflect and cater for the customer service, needs and expectations of the customers that influence the majority of motor industry sales ie women. This is a serious opportunity and those employers that are seen to be female friendly ahead of others are likely to attract the creme de la creme of STEM graduates who are increasingly women.


MBA, FCIM, Chartered Marketer and a proud Member of the Institute of the Motor Industry (MIMI) keen to see more fellow females in future!