Silverstone Park is to support five teenagers aiming to become the first all-female team to win the world final of the Land Rover 4×4 in Schools Technology Challenge in Abu Dhabi next month.
The Epsilon Engineers – all sixth form students at Denbigh School, Milton Keynes – will hope to impress judges with their engineering skills, which include negotiating a tricky 4×4 course with a special scale model car they have designed and built.
They will also need to demonstrate the technology and thinking behind their design and show how they have promoted their project and attracted funding.
In March, inside Silverstone Circuit’s Wing building, they won the competition’s UK final to book their place in the world final at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Grand Prix circuit.
The team is made up of 17-year-olds Imogen Varga, Nia Schell, Demi York and Kathryn Papadakis, and Yasmin Loveland, aged 18.
Silverstone Park has helped with some sponsorship. This led to the team being invited to promote itself before 200 automotive companies and individuals at the Niche Vehicle Network’s annual Members Forum event held at the estate’s University Technology College.
“The Epsilon Engineers are a real inspiration for women considering a career in science and engineering. Silverstone Park was therefore keen to sponsor them when they made contact with us in the summer,” commented Roz Bird, Commercial Director for rapidly developing high-tech business estate Silverstone Park.
She added: “We know that our high-tech companies at Silverstone Park are looking to employ people with an aptitude for engineering. Encouraging more women into engineering, electronics and software development will bring in that much needed talent, over the coming years.
“I was also keen to support the team because they are at a school which is within the Silverstone Technology Cluster. The Cluster Board is dedicating time and effort to developing a strategy which will help companies with their recruitment strategies; working with our local schools is very much a part of that strategy.”
The scale model car designed and built by the engineering team at Denbigh School
In total, 26 teams from 17 different countries will contest the world final. Imogen said: “We took part in 2016 but didn’t get past the national heat – however that experience has made us a better team.
“We’d like to rate our chances quite high. We know our car and we’ve been told it’s very good and how well our team works together.
“We are only a small team so to have Silverstone Park’s help and the Silverstone name attached to us is a massive deal.”
Yasmin added: “We’ve created test rigs in anticipation of some of the types of obstacles that our car might face. In all we need around £10,000 to see the project through: that includes flights and hotels, but more importantly it’s spent on components for the car, general development and entry fees. We have to build a second car for the world final – the first is for demonstration and display purposes only; the other is to drive on the course which we are not allowed to do until it’s our turn. Also we only get to see the course for the first time when they unveil it just before the start…”
David Matthews, an engineering and design teacher at Denbigh, enthused: “The school has been astounded at their motivation. I was involved originally in setting up the team but have now been able to take a back seat.
“The girls’ skills are across science and technology and engineering subjects such as software and CAD as well as maths and physics. Some of them might look to go into the aerospace industry and engineering sectors; others into apprenticeship schemes and it would not surprise me if they all go on and excel.”
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