Today (23 June) is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), an international awareness campaign marking the work and achievements of women engineers as well as highlighting the amazing career opportunities available, including many within motorsport.
Encouraging more girls into motorsport engineering is one of the many objectives of the FIA/Motorsport UK Girls on Track UK initiative, which hosts events to inspire girls and women into seeing and believing that they have a rightful place in the industry.
Girls aged 8-18 are given free invitations to these unique events, which are designed to encourage an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
The latest of these events took place just yesterday (22 June) at Cosworth’s headquarters in Northampton.
60 local primary school girls (age eight to 11 on this occasion), including a group from charitable organisation SIEVEMK Gateway, were invited to the base of the renowned engine constructor for a packed day of various STEM activities related to motorsport. Courtesy of Cosworth’s accommodation and involvement in the day, a number of their female staff members, from a variety of different roles within the company, were present to offer guidance and inspiration to the girls.
Indoors, the hands-on challenges included piecing together a part for an oil pump (an integral element of the engine), a ‘battery challenge’ where they created electrical circuits and carried out experiments, a Lego-based activity involving the construction and coding of mini cars (which were eventually raced!), a problem-solving ‘bug hunting’ task to find, test and report issues within pieces of software, and a media activity where the girls wrote a report about the day and presented it to camera if they were feeling confident enough!
Out in the sun, the Formula 1-style pit stop challenge was a particular highlight. Using a mini car chassis and small equipment, the girls learned the basics of a tyre change, including jacking the car up and down and replacing the wheels using the wheel gun. To initiate some friendly competition, the girls were split into small groups and a leaderboard was created to track the fastest times!
“We’ve had a whole host of activities happening today to inspire the girls and open their eyes to the motorsport industry,” commented Girls on Track UK programme manager Jenny Fletcher. “The reason we’ve chosen today is to be part of the celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, and we’ve been so lucky here to have a huge number of positive female role models who work across all different job roles within Cosworth.”
“They’ve been engaging, and inspiring, the students all day long. It’s been absolutely brilliant.”
Many of the girls will also be inspired by the amazing success of the Girls on Track UK Ambassadors already working in the industry, including Ruth Buscombe, Charlie Broughton and Dr Cristiana Pace.
Buscombe is a familiar face in Formula 1 with race engineer roles at Ferrari, Haas and most recently Alfa Romeo, while Broughton has more than 20 years’ experience and currently works as a motorsport technician for BTCC team Power Maxed Racing. Dr Pace is the founder of global sustainability consultancy ENovation and sits on the FIA Environment and Sustainability Commission.