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2016 McLaren Manufacturing Challenge inspires tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and mathematicians

2016 McLaren Manufacturing Challenge inspires tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and mathematicians

  • Students challenged to design and produce a motor-less vehicle to race against other schools in the South East

  • Pupils given exclusive tour of the McLaren Technology Centre and met McLaren graduates from a variety of disciplines

  • Competition held as part of McLaren’s wide-ranging STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) initiatives throughout the year

  • Increase in female participation for the fifth iteration of the Manufacturing Challenge 

McLaren Technology Group yesterday welcomed 43 students and their teachers, from nine schools in the region, to compete in the 2016 McLaren Manufacturing Challenge grand finals. 

Nine teams of up to five students took part in the Challenge, which aims to enthuse 14 to 16 year-olds interested in STEM-related subjects by giving them behind-the-scenes access to the exclusive McLaren Technology Centre, and inspire the next generation of engineers and businesspeople by offering a real-world glimpse into the wide range of disciplines on offer.

This year’s Manufacturing Challenge is the fifth of its kind run by McLaren, and was started back in 2011 as part of UK Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative, giving students the chance to find out about the exciting opportunities presented within modern manufacturing and engineering. 

Each team was challenged to design and build a motor-less vehicle, powered by professional-strength rubber bands and each housing a hardboiled egg, to be raced along a purpose-built ‘track’ in the quickest time. All the schools held their own individual heats, and the winning team from each was invited to take part in the grand final at the McLaren Technology Centre.

New for this year’s competition, students were tasked with creating a presentation showcasing their design, methodology, car livery, sustainable materials and costs before running their cars, to bring in a real-world commercial element to the production of their vehicles. The groups were scored by a quartet of McLaren judges, including McLaren Technology Group’s Brand Director, John Allert, and McLaren’s Powertrain Director, Richard Farquhar. 

John Allert, McLaren Technology Group Brand Director

The day culminated in the grand final with each team taking to the ‘track’ to showcase their car’s abilities by running their cars – without support – with the aim of crossing the finish line in the quickest time. Each team was given two runs, with the quickest time being added to their scores from the previous round.

The groups were also given a no-holds-barred exclusive tour of the McLaren Technology Centre, offering them insight into the vast diversity of roles on offer across the company. The Campus in Woking is where McLaren’s Formula 1 cars are designed and built in McLaren Racing, where its range of high-performance road cars are manufactured by McLaren Automotive, and where a wide range of motorsport components are made and simulation projects undertaken with blue-chip global companies at McLaren Applied Technologies.

The students were also met along the tour by a number of McLaren’s STEM Ambassadors –graduates from across the various businesses – who each offered an insight into their daily lives at work, explained their motivation to consider a STEM career, described their education and employment paths to McLaren, and were on hand to give the students advice, support and answer questions. 

The day ended with a tense deliberation over lunch where scores were added and the judges settled on the rankings, before the students gathered for a final awards ceremony. After a successful presentation and a faultless, fast drive across the finish line, the winning team was announced: George Abbot School, in Guildford.

Ellis Devonshire, teacher from George Abbot School, said: “Being able to bring the students to the McLaren Technology Centre is a fantastic and rare opportunity for them to go behind the scenes at such an iconic company, to get a sense of how exciting a science-based career can be and where their studies can lead them. Design and technology is an important mix of science and maths elements, and the students have really enjoyed using problem-solving skills to find solutions to real-world design problems. 

“It’s great to see McLaren’s commitment to supporting schools and to encouraging the next generation of scientists and engineers by putting on such a fun and inspiring day for both the students and for teachers.” 

John Allert, McLaren Technology Group Brand Director, said: “At McLaren, we recognise that skills and expertise in the manufacturing and engineering sectors sit at the heart of the UK’s economic growth and prosperity. This is why we place such importance in reaching out to the next generation of students to demonstrate the great diversity of roles within this high-tech, highly skilled sector.

“While this is the fifth McLaren Manufacturing Challenge, it is only one of the many varied STEM initiatives – which average more than one a week – that McLaren is proud to run and be involved in. That’s because we’ve established a successful network of STEM Ambassadors from across McLaren, who regularly attend events at schools, colleges and careers events. They engage and interact with students and graduates of all ages, to raise awareness of the rewarding career options open to those who choose to continue their education in STEM-related subjects.

“We are also pleased to see an increased uptake in STEM-related events among girls: three of yesterday’s nine teams were all-female, more than any Manufacturing Challenge previously. For these talented young people – boys and girls alike – STEM is a ticket to an exciting future. Everyone at McLaren gets a real buzz from igniting the next generation of British innovators.”

“The 2016 Manufacturing Challenge has been a great success – congratulations to all the schools for their hard work and commitment to producing outstanding engineering concepts for the final, and particularly to the winners from George Abbot School on their exceptional achievement. We hope to see many of the students at McLaren again in the future, perhaps in a different guise as a McLaren employee.”

Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State of Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, said: "The McLaren Manufacturing Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to introduce STEM subjects to students in a fun, engaging and educational way. It is hugely positive that in its fifth iteration, the challenge has managed to get more girls involved than ever before. 

"By 2020, our ambition is to see 15,000 more entries to maths and science A levels by girls, and this initiative is an excellent way to showcase the many opportunities in the area and increase uptake."