Mechanical Engineering

Female Mechanical Engineering Students Rev Up Formula One Racing

Engineering students and graduates from Cambridge and Warwick Universities explain how they are lighting up motor racing.

© mik38

© mik38

Tola Shasanya — London

National Women in Engineering day sought to encourage more women to pursue engineering careers.

Last week, an event hosted at the London location of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) featured two female panels, both passionate about motorsports, showcasing career opportunities for women in engineering.

Anchored by BBC’s Jennie Gow, IMechE brought together a group of women with diverse interests and experience in F1 and race engineering.

Jenna said that people often don’t know that engineering can lead to so many different avenues. “It’s really good to be able to inform people about that, and excite people in engineering,” she said.

Rachael Matthews kicked off the student panel, sharing her experience of competing in F1 in Schools, a multidisciplinary competition for students aged 9-19 where teams design, manufacture, test and race air-powered cars.

Rachael’s role was to ensure the vehicle that her team, Colossus F1, created complied with all of the rules. She believes that the diversity of the competition contributed greatly to enriching the experience of the participants.

Helen Jarman is the team manager for an F1 Schools team called Evolution F1. She’s responsible for ensuring that everyone on the team does their job as effectively as possible. Evolution F1 is creating a launch energy recovery system as part of its entry into this year’s competition.

Aurelia Hibbert heads the Cambridge University Eco-Racing initiative, whose mission is to inspire and innovate.

Aurelia’s team designs and builds solar-powered cars which then compete at the World Solar Challenge, an endurance competition. Cambridge University Eco-Racing is the leading solar car racing team in the UK.

It does this by utilizing renewable energy and working with mentors to promote engineering to students. Eco-Racing proved popular, given the rise of Formula E, the world’s first fully electric racing series.

Hannah Surgue, a recent mechanical engineering graduate of at the University of Warwick, is part of Formula Student, an initiative organized by IMechE, in which students design, test and build race cars that they use to compete in the Formula Student competition in July each year.  

Hannah got involved in Formula Student at Warwick University in 2011 and it completely changed her career path.

Participating in Formula Student not only built up skills such as design and project management, it also exposed Hannah to the specialized world of race engineering. From shipping a race from the UK to Australia, to working with like-minded and passionate engineers, Hannah said the experience was diverse.

These stories go to show that education beyond the four walls of a class room can be effective, and perhaps more interesting. Participating in such activities also builds communication, team work, and organizational skills.

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