After winning The Telegraph’s 2016 UK STEM Awards innovation category, sponsored by McLaren, Abi Wetton was given the unique opportunity to complete a week-long work experience stint at McLaren Applied Technologies. In fact, Abi so impressed senior directors during her work experience that she was offered a permanent contract, which she has accepted.
“It was an easy decision for me,” she says. “The environment at McLaren breeds innovation and the campus is stunning. I now have the opportunity to share my ideas and learn from thought-leaders in transport, health, automotive and motorsport, which is invaluable to me.”
The big idea
Abi’s innovative idea is at the core of McLaren Applied Technologies’ mission: to improve people’s lives by combining fresh thinking and technology to solve crucial challenges.
“My idea is an innovative alert system which aims to improve safety levels and efficiencies across tramlines, which was sparked from witnessing incidents with trams and pedestrians while living in Nottingham.
“This is done through providing passengers, pedestrians, and road users with a visual alert system. By using a variety of technologies in co-operation with the tram’s current infrastructure, the system is able to create a rolling alert, moving ahead of the tram and accurately indicating its approach.
“The only current form of alert on tramlines is a bell sounded manually by the driver which, in my eyes, was a weak solution, putting pressure on drivers and potentially increasing the risk for the public.
“My idea eliminates human error, helping to lower the risk of a collision.
“I feel the new system should be of particular benefit to those with disabilities; giving them more independence and reassurance while travelling. It also ensures the system could be taught alongside the green cross code for children.”
A new role
Abi’s new role within the public transport team at McLaren Applied Technologies will vary and adapt over time. She has been assigned a mentor who will set her development objectives and advise her on training and progression opportunities.
“My role is an account executive within the team,” she adds. “The main focus of my role is to look after the account and service management aspects of the C2C contracts."
“I’m excited to take on this new challenge and to have the opportunity to work with such a great team on these kinds of projects.”
Culture at McLaren Applied Technologies
“There is a clear innovation culture at McLaren,” says Abi.
“The way different departments at Applied Technologies collaborate on projects excites me. For example, the design and simulation team worked alongside the public transport team to develop my idea.
“I hope to contribute to McLaren's Product Innovation Framework, which provides the platform for employees to research and develop their ideas and potentially get funding from the business to take them further.
“Senior leaders were also receptive to my ideas, which was great considering their experience and expertise in their respective fields.”
Abi has also set her sights on encouraging more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) as part of McLaren’s growing STEM ambassador network.
“It was nice to see other females working at Applied Technologies, and across the business. One of my goals is to become a McLaren STEM ambassador so I can encourage more women to join the business and make a difference.”
Experience of working at McLaren Applied Technologies
“My experience at the McLaren Technology Centre was breath-taking.
“After spending two days in Duncan Bradley’s design and simulation team and two days with Paul Bebbington’s public transport team, I learned an incredible amount in such a short amount of time. I am motivated after seeing how people’s ideas were valued and taken forward in major projects.
“It felt like the perfect environment for creative people to execute their ideas, whether it’s in transport or healthcare.
“From the spectacular boulevard which houses historic racing cars and trophies, to the futuristic, high-spec labs in McLaren Applied Technologies, you’re not only constantly reminded of McLaren’s impeccable history, but also today’s exciting projects.
“I’m really looking forward to innovating with McLaren.”
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