McLaren Manufacturing Challenge student winners get rare glimpse inside MTC
Students from schools close to the McLaren Technology Centre got a rare glimpse inside our headquarters recently as prizewinners in the McLaren Manufacturing Challenge.
Part of the Government-backed ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ campaign, the students, all 11-16 years old, were treated to a full tour of the MTC, including a look at some of the famous F1 cars on the boulevard, and got a taste of life as a McLaren engineer.
As VIP guests, they were allowed inside the normally top-secret wind tunnel and the workshops where Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton’s F1 cars are made. Brad Fincham, one of McLaren’s young Vehicle Dynamics Test Engineers, talked about what inspired him to become an automotive engineer and the students also met Frank Stephenson, McLaren Automotive’s Design Director, who talked to them about the design features on the MP4-12C high-performance sports car.
Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, said the See Inside Manufacturing initiative had his full support.
“We’ve seen a worrying decline in our industrial base over the past two decades and this alarming trend must be reversed if we’re to create a more stable and prosperous future for our country. Changing the perception of manufacturing and engineering amongst students represents a critical first step in this process.
“Education sits at the very heart of Britain’s opportunity to lead the world in advanced engineering. It is up to all of us, as employers, as parents and as the Government, to reignite in young people a sense of passion in studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, in order to open up more employment opportunities in those areas.
“McLaren aims to support future growth and inject new life into high-technology manufacturing and engineering jobs in the UK. We hope to inspire future generations of designers and engineers to work in these fields in the UK and I have no doubt that the bright young engineers working on our Formula 1 and sports car projects will show that Britain’s automotive sector still retains some of the best manufacturing and engineering talent in the world.”
McLaren Group’s involvement was praised by Dr. Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, who said it was time to “shake up” old fashioned views of manufacturing.
“For too many young people the word manufacturing is a turn off. A worrying poll out last week found that only one out of ten children aged 11 to 14 thought that engineering was an important job and even ranked being a politician as a better choice of career!
“Through the Government's See Inside Manufacturing campaign and McLaren's events at the McLaren Technology Centre, we will give young people the chance to see the exciting face of modern manufacturing which is highly skilled, high tech and highly paid.”
Local schools had teams of five competing against each other and had a month to design, test and manufacture motor-less vehicle in which to carry an object over a 10-metre distance in the quickest time possible. They then competed against other teams in their school and winners from each school were invited to the MTC for a grand finale.
Woking College won with an ingenious design powered by a mousetrap and completed the distance in an impressive 2.8 seconds.
Frank Stephenson, who oversaw the competition along with Brand Fincham, said he had been hugely impressed by the students.
“At McLaren,” he said, “we’re very fortunate to work in a place that has deliberately been designed to inspire and motivate us to strive to be the very best we can be and we hope some of that has rubbed off on the students.
“There’s nothing quite like seeing the very car (McLaren MP4/4) that the legendary Ayrton Senna drove to win the World Driver’s Championship in 1988 and, judging by the reaction of students and teachers alike, I think it's safe to say that they found it an exciting and inspiring day.”