‘I think we’ve got a real problem with image, not in Motorsport or F1, but in Engineering in general,’ said Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Martini Racing, at the Santander Universities panel discussion at Formula Student UK. ‘The image that engineering has of being old fashioned and calling an engineer round to fix your fridge – we don’t do that. We do some of the most brilliant things in the world, we put rockets into space and put them on the racetrack as well.’
There is a shortage of engineers worldwide, but in the UK, the engineering sector needs 1.8 million engineers and technicians by 2025, according to recent research by VHR. The problem is even worse for women in engineering; only 6% of registered engineers and technicians are currently female. Add to this the fact that only 15.8% of engineering and technology undergraduates in the UK are female and the industry is facing a severe problem.
However, at Formula Student UK this year, there were more female engineers, team leaders and drivers than ever before – there was even the competition’s first all female team from the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), from Islamabad, Pakistan.
As part of the Santander Universities programme, a panel of industry experts discussed the benefits of women in engineering, particularly in Formula 1, and what the industry needs to do encourage more women into the sport.