Jenson Button backs STEM campaign

Racing driver Jenson Button has endorsed an initiative from McLaren Group and GlaxoSmithKline to clarify the need for science and maths skills in Formula 1 and other engineering jobs.

The campaign ‘Scientists in Sport’ helps young people make the right subject choices to support their careers aspirations.

Formula 1 hero Jenson Button yesterday endorsed the campaign and met with school children to urge them to stick with science and maths at school if they wanted to have successful careers in sports industries.

‘Scientists in Sport’ supports a wider competition called the Fast Forward Challenge which challenges school students to devise tests which can speed up a Formula 1 driver’s reactions.

This competition was officially launched at the Big Bang science fair last week. Students who devise the winning test concepts will get the chance to visit the McLaren Technology Centre to see their ideas put into action by the Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes race team.

The overall winning team will also scoop £1000 in vouchers for their school to buy new science equipment.

Mr Button acknowledged that while the “speed, drama, noise and glamour of Formula 1” inspired many young people to want jobs in the industry, it was common that young people do not understand the fundamental importance of STEM subjects to achieving that desire.

“Our sport wouldn’t exist without the tireless work and dedication of some of the world’s cleverest scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” he explained to school children at yesterday’s engagement event.

“It’s so important for young people to stick with maths and science at school,” he continued. “In the future they might just find themselves designing a new grand prix car, or working in the pits analysing telemetry data.”

For those that might not be so struck by the lure of Formula 1 Button also alluded to more of the “amazing opportunities” available to those with science and maths qualifications.

Expressing the diversity of STEM-based careers is a key driver for the partnership between McLaren and GSK on these skills initiatives. Engagement events aim to highlight how similar skills sets to those needed by McLaren and the glamorous world of Formula 1 racing, are also needed to support GSKs  manufacturing, R&D and nutritional research.

For more information on the Scientists in Sport initiative go to www.scientistsinsport.com or follow the campaign on twitter via @GSKScience.