Lola launch national competition to inspire young women into engineering

Renowned British engineering company Lola today announced the foundation of a national competition aimed at encouraging young women to pursue further education and careers in science, design and engineering. The contest will be officially launched at the end of January and will run throughout Spring 2012.The competition will be open to all women under the age of 25. Entrants will required to produce an original, revolutionary design for a product that is compatible across Lola's diverse portfolio of technologies in aerospace, defence, communications, renewables, motorsport and automotive industries. A panel of expert judges will assess every entry and narrow the field down to a shortlist of 10.The competition will culminate with a celebration of young female engineering talent at a prestigious award's ceremony where shortlisted candidates and the winner will be announced in front of leading British engineers, Government Ministers and media. The top prize will be awarded to an outstanding young woman who demonstrates ability, imagination and passion for engineering. The winner will receive a cheque, a trophy and the opportunity to further enhance and test their winning design at Lola's state of the art facilities in Huntingdon.Lola has launched this competition due to the lack of female engineers which remains a major barrier to tackling skills shortages in the wider UK manufacturing sector. Poor take up and retention rates for further education engineering courses is cause for concern but none more so than the fact that the UK is ranked worst in Europe for the number of female engineering professionals.'Lola design office manager Sharon Hewison (pictured above right at Lola with Barbara Follet MP) has worked at the company since 1991. Joining at the age of 19 as a kit cutter, Sharon has worked her way up to one of the top jobs within Lola and is now responsible for the smooth running of the hectic Lola design office where multi industry projects have to be carefully planned and executed.Today only 13% of engineering graduates are women in the UK, with that figure falling to 9% when entering the workforce, compared to 18% in Spain, 20% in Italy and 26% in Sweden. The reason often presented for this decline is that many young women do not consider engineering as an interesting and well paid career. Lola's competition will seek to undo this preconception and demonstrate that Britain has a wealth of young female engineers.Martin Birrane, Owner of Lola Group, said: "Lola is determined to support the discovery of Britain's brightest female engineering talent and inspire young people to pursue their passion in science, design and engineering. The under-representation of women in these sectors provides a threat to the UK's global competitiveness. This competition provides the opportunity for exceptional young women to get noticed for all the right reasons and we are anticipating exciting and pioneering designs to be entered by young women from around the country.'The Lola Group is also looking to further expand on its facilities at Huntington as it continues to grow and develop. Lola is at the heart of UK manufacturing. In the past six months Lola have taken on eight apprentices and two full time graduate engineers on year- out work placements.