Shell Eco-marathon: Inspiring tomorrow’s scientists and engineers

Cars of the future were spotted on Westminster Bridge, London, on Wednesday morning (November 4th) as Shell announced its Eco-marathon Europe will be coming to London in 2016 for the first time in its 30 year history. 

One of the world’s longest-running student competitions​, the Eco-marathon brings together 200 teams and 300 students from across Europe and challlenges them to design and build ultra-energy-efficient vehicles and competing to see how far they can travel on one litre of fuel. ​The global event is held throughout the year in Asia, America and Europe.

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Erik Bonino, Chairman Shell UK, said: “For 30 years, Shell Eco-marathon has helped inspire the world’s brightest young minds to design and build new vehicle technologies. ‘Make the Future’ is all about supporting bright energy ideas and providing a stage for collaboration and conversation about the global energy challenge.

“It’s inspiring to see these students pushing themselves to their creative, scientific and engineering limits. We encourage people to visit this free, unique festival where they can share, interact with and be inspired by current and future energy solutions.”

The student challenge will take place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from June 30 to July 3, 2016, and will form part of ‘Make the Future’ – a public festival of bright energy ideas and innovations, aimed to raise awareness of the energy challenges we face around the world.​

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said, “I am thrilled to welcome the world’s best science and tech innovators to London as they strive to make motor vehicles more and more energy efficient, saving carbon and reducing air pollution.

“London is home to the best designers, engineers and entrepreneurs who I know will rise to the challenge of developing the transformational low energy cars of the future.”

Yesterday’s event coincided with Engineer Week (2-6th November), which shines a spotlight on engineering careers in a way that young people, and particularly girls, may have never considered before. 

Shannon Hill, a student from University of Central Lancashire, one of the participants in the global competition said: “When I joined university there were lots of opportunities I could get involved with. Shell Eco-marathon really stood out to me because it was so different and it’s not like any of the other things I could have got involved with. But this is so future thinking, I was intrigued and immediately wanted to get involved. She spoke about the importance of 

The UK is particularly lacking in workers proficient in Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. In the next decade, employers will need 1.82m people with engineering skills.

Hill said: “Currently there are about 12 people in our team and I’m the only girl. In total from 100 people in my year in engineering, there are about 5 or 6 girls. On motorsports in particular, I’m currently the only girl. There could be more, and gradually I think we’re getting more girls in engineering, but in general it isn’t well-known to children at a young enough age. Whether it’s girls or boys, it’s not being presented in a way that really excites children.

“That’s one of the things I really liked about Shell Eco-marathon, having previously participated in the event. As well as the race element, the energy lab – an experiential area at the event, is something, which targeted younger children and let them have fun with science. I hope it inspires more kids to think about further education in engineering.

New research from EngineeringUK released this week found cyber sexism is still rife when it comes to the depiction of engineers on websites used by young people, leading to girls being put off from a potentially well-paid and rewarding career in the industry. 

“Mainstream media always targets fashion and entertainment and what not. They don’t really present anything engineering related in general. It should be more present. Yes the computer games are fun, but they (media) don’t show the more interesting aspects behind engineering as a topic.

“In years gone by, people used to get excited about inventions or new technologies, when NASA first made breakthroughs. It was something that really excited children in engineering. But there’s less now in that respect that pushes children in that direction. That’s what I’m hoping ‘Make the Future’ in London next year will be able to do,” added Hill.


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