The sixth annual SES Hovercraft Day at The Mount was a great success, inviting young girls from all around York to be inspired about engineering and women in STEM.
80 girls from six local schools, including The Mount Junior, met the challenge to work in teams that would design, build and then race their own hovercraft in a tournament to determine the overall champion.
The students worked together in teams, alongside teaching staff and STEM PhD students from York University, to create fully-functioning hovercrafts powered by a leaf blower engine and capable of carrying one ‘pilot’ from each team along a short racing track.
Adrienne Richmond, Principal, said: “Spaces for our sixth Hovercraft Day filled within three hours, showing the clear demand for events that give girls the opportunity to develop important skills such as leadership and communication. Most importantly, they can learn from female engineering role models like Rachel from SES, and PhD student mentors from the University of York who show that there is a real place for women in the engineering and science communities.
“As a girls’ school, The Mount provides an excellent educational setting for our students to thrive in STEM studies. For many girls attending SES’ Hovercraft Day, it’s their first time to learn in an all-girl setting and it’s wonderful, year on year, to watch their self-confidence grow throughout the day. We are so grateful to SES, York University and our local schools for their support in making this day a success and look forward to this event becoming even bigger and better in the future.”
At the end of the workshop, the hovercraft designs were judged by Rachel Schofield, SES’ Business Unit Co-ordinator – North and following a thrilling race, the team from St Paul’s Primary School had earned the winners’ trophy.
Rachel commented: “The skills gap that is affecting the industry as a whole is even wider for women and we need to do everything we can to introduce more young girls to an engineering career.
“Many have preconceptions of what engineering means, without realising the scope for creativity and innovation that it brings. Initiatives like our Hovercraft Day are proven to help encourage young girls to consider STEM subjects later on and it was fantastic to see so many talented and creative girls rise to the challenge.”
SES has sponsored the annual event since its inception in 2013, which has seen over 520 girls take part so far and has been strongly supported by York MP and Shadow Minister for Transport, Rachael Maskell. This year, places were filled within three hours, proving the popularity of the event, with many previous attendees now studying STEM subjects at A-Level.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central and Shadow Minister for Transport, said of the event: “Every year this event becomes more popular and I’m pleased to see that SES and The Mount School continue to take the lead in encouraging the next generation of female engineers.
“Engineering is a vastly diverse and rewarding sector and we desperately need more young people, particularly women, to pursue careers in this field. Sparking an interest in engineering from an early age is our best route to ensuring we have the skills in place to deliver future projects which will be so vital to supporting our economy.”