F1 in Schools: putting skills in the fast lane

Inspiring the next generation of engineers remains a key challenge for industry. Natalie Wilson, head of commercial at EAL explains why its partnership with F1 in Schools is part of the answer.

Being judged on quality and performance against competition from across the world is something companies are well used to as the economy becomes ever more global.

Natalie Wilson, head of commercial, EAL.
Natalie Wilson, head of commercial, EAL.

For the UK to remain at the forefront of advanced manufacturing and engineering it needs to fuel the imagination and help hone the skills of the next generation.

We cannot afford to slip from pole position to the back of the field. It’s why, as the specialist awarding organisation for industry, EAL believes supporting innovation with accredited qualifications should play a vital part in driving the skills agenda.

EAL’s partnership with F1 in Schools reflects our determination to drive vocational qualifications into the classroom.

F1 in Schools is a national and international competition that tasks teams of students to design, test, manufacture and race a scale model Formula 1 car.

The programme is run in more than 44 countries with regional and national finals events.

It culminates in an international final bringing all the winners together – this year’s was held in Singapore ahead of the Grand Prix.

The F1 in Schools Technology Challenge provides an exciting yet challenging educational experience through the magnetic appeal of Formula One.

Teams of learners aged 9 to 19 deploy CAD/CAM software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature compressed air powered polyurethane based F1 cars.

3D modelling software is the “backbone of F1 in Schools”
The F1 in Schools Technology Challenge provides an exciting yet challenging educational experience through the magnetic appeal of Formula One.

The challenge inspires learners to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership/teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way.

EAL’s Level 1 Foundation Certificate in Engineering Technology has three optional units –Introduction to Computer Aided Drawing (CAD); Introduction to Computer Aided Machining (CAM), and Introduction to Engineering project planning – mapped to F1 in Schools activities, helping learners achieve the qualification through activities that would otherwise not be officially recognised.

The qualification is only just available and yet it has already been shortlisted for the FeAbout EALderation of Awarding Bodies qualification of the year.

When it was presented to 47 teams from 22 countries there was interest expressed from Austria, China, the US and Botswana.

Of course this initiative does nothing more than get us on the starting grid, which is why EAL recently unveiled a portfolio of schools qualifications, which would count toward apprenticeships and traineeships.

In addition the EAL Schools’ Pledge, launched last year, is securing ties between educators and local businesses to ensure that industry’s needs are met and the skills gap closed.

This early stage intervention can play a crucial role in helping the Government achieve its target of creating three million apprenticeships – putting candidates with accredited qualifications in pole position.

Failing to engage young people, their parents and teachers is simply not an option if the UK economy is to take the chequered flag in a winning position.

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