Students ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ at McLaren as part of government campaign to inspire future generations of engineers

21 October 2011 #SMMT News

The McLaren Group welcomed a group of local teachers and students to the McLaren Technology Centre for a rare, behind the scenes glimpse into life as a McLaren engineer.

The tour, organised in conjunction with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills as part of the Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ campaign, is aimed at encouraging young people to see engineering as an exciting and viable career choice, while also increasing awareness of the importance of a strong manufacturing base to the future of the UK economy.

Students were allowed inside McLaren’s normally top secret wind tunnel and workshops, where Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 race cars are developed and built. They were then treated to a presentation from one of McLaren’s young Vehicle Dynamics Test Engineers, Brad Fincham, who explained what inspired him to get into the industry and what life as a racing and automotive engineer entails. This was followed by McLaren Automotive’s Design Director, Frank Stephenson, who gave an insight into the design features on the highly-acclaimed MP4-12C high-performance sports car.

With a greater emphasis now being placed on rebalancing the economy and rebuilding the UK’s manufacturing sector, an enormous premium is being placed on highly-skilled engineers and technicians. However, the UK faces a potentially acute skills shortage as evidenced in a survey by the Engineering and Technology Board which found that 49% of 7 to 11-year-olds thought it would be ‘boring’ to be an engineer and only 12% of 11 to 16-year-olds claim to have any knowledge of what a career in engineering would be like.

Speaking about the initiative, Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, said, “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 so I lend my full support to the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative. 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.”

Dr. Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, said, “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! We are determined to shake up old fashioned views of manufacturing. 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.”

The students taking part in the tour were selected through the McLaren Manufacturing Challenge – a competition designed to get students thinking about engineering and manufacturing in a practical, hands-on sense by designing, and building, a motor-less vehicle to carry an object over a 10 metre distance in the quickest time possible.

Woking College took the chequered flag with their ingenious mouse-trap propelled vehicle which completed the 10 metre distance in an impressive 2.28 seconds. Frank Stephenson and Brad Fincham oversaw the competition and were enormously impressed with the innovation and ingenuity shown by all the teams.

To find out more about ‘See Inside Manufacturing, click here.


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