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Author: The Greenpower Team
For over 20 years, our mission has been to inspire young people to pursue STEM careers by sparking their imagination and creativity through a unique challenge: to design, build and race their very own electric race cars.
To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we spoke to some of our Greenpower alumni to understand how the challenge influenced them in their studies and careers.
Lizzie Craven first got involved with Greenpower in 2008, when she joined her primary school’s Goblin team. A year before, she had watched fellow pupils in the year above her practicing with their car in the playground after school, and from that moment knew she wanted to be in the team.
Lizzie then began volunteering and assisting another team at her dad’s school to prepare their own Greenpower challengers. She has since spent the past three summers working with us in various roles, from our stockroom, to working in the office, to event assistance. So what is it about Greenpower that brings her back time after time?
“The Greenpower challenge is a fantastic way to involve young people in engineering challenges that they wouldn’t else be able to do. There are multiple engineering opportunities for students as they leave school and enter college, but from the ages of 9-16 there aren’t as many opportunities. Greenpower bridges this gap. It is also a great way to introduce young women who might have the perception that engineering, cars and racing are only for men (which they definitely aren’t!),” explains Lizzie.
“Everyone should join Greenpower, not only because it’s a great conversation starter, but also because it is wonderful team building experience. It teaches 9-25 year olds that everyone benefits from working in a team. It also teaches skills such as wiring and CAD design that maybe wouldn’t be taught until later levels of education.”
Lizzie is about to start her Master's degree at Swansea University, where she is studying Medical Engineering. Has Greenpower inspired her in her studies?
“100%,” says Lizzie, “I’d always thought about studying engineering having grown up in an engineering family, but Greenpower reinforced my love for mechanics and finding out how things work.”
For Lizzie, an advantage of the Greenpower challenge is the lack of barrier to entry. Teams can come from schools, colleges, universities, as well as youth and community clubs. Grants can be awarded to teams to help them fund their kit car, which can be reused and rebuilt year after year.
“The best thing about Greenpower is how it brings together people from all walks of life. As the charity has expanded throughout the world, it has shown that no matter where you’re from, everyone enjoys racing cars. It also helps that all the staff are very friendly and welcoming, and really know their stuff!”