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International Women in Engineering Day: A blog by Emilia de Luca

23 June 2020

As part of our series for International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) 2020, past participant Emilia de Luca has shared her experience of the Greenpower challenge and discussed the influence it has had on her career – including helping her to secure a placement with Tata Technologies for her year in industry. Emilia is about to start her final year studying motorsport engineering at Coventry University and her ambition is to work in the motorsport or automotive industry after graduating.

Over to you, Emilia!

Emilia de Luca

I took part in Greenpower for over 5 years, between 2012 and 2017 (aged 13-18), competing with Team Scooby and Scooby Too in both Formula 24 and 24+. During my time with the team I took on many roles. I began as a team member and as a driver in Formula 24, before developing the team’s driver and battery management strategies, driving in Formula 24+ and helping run the team during sixth form.

Greenpower helped me realise that being a woman isn’t a barrier to being an engineer, and helped develop my interest in encouraging the younger generations of girls to go into STEM careers. At race days, I saw plenty of teams with girls in as well as all-girls teams, so to me, women in motorsport was quite normal. Unfortunately that isn’t the case when it comes to the motorsport industry, and that’s something I would like to help change. When I joined Team Scooby, there was just a handful of girls. By the time I left school and the team, I had helped increase the number in the girls in the team by over double what it was when I started, which is something I am quite proud of.

Taking part in Greenpower also taught me so much, including skills that I use and value now. Not only useful hands on and technical engineering skills, but it helped increase my confidence, decision making and problem solving. Having learnt hands on skills such as using hand tools, being able to operate various machines (including CNC machines, laser cutters and vacuum formers) and basic electrical knowledge has been really useful, and gave me a great grounding when starting university.

I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to compete in Greenpower, and it had a big influence on both my choice of what to study at university and the industry I would like to work in once I graduate. I’d known for a while that I’d wanted to study engineering at university, and to study a specialised course rather than general engineering, but it was taking part in Greenpower races and my love of racing cars growing up that ultimately lead me to choose motorsport engineering as my specialism to study at university, and the industry I would like to work in. I concluded why study just mechanical engineering, when I could study mechanical engineering applied to racing cars!

I currently study motorsport engineering at Coventry University, where I started in 2017. I recently finished my industrial placement year, and am going back to university to start my third year in September. For my placement I worked for Tata Technologies, an international engineering consultancy firm, as an intern in the exteriors team for a large Jaguar Land Rover project. For me, getting a placement job was challenging; I went to ten interviews before being offered the job at Tata Technologies (and it was typical that I was offered two jobs at once after all those unsuccessful interviews!). I spent a fair chunk of my interview talking about Greenpower (helped my one of the managers knowing of Greenpower already) and the work I did for the team and on the cars. It helped me demonstrate my time management and problem solving skills, and my passion for engineering. I’m convinced that my experience with Greenpower as a teenager definitely helped me be successful in the interview, and gaining me the job. I found my placement year to be thoroughly enjoyable and allowed me to learn a great deal, and it was also nice to work on full-size cars for once!

I’ve been lucky that I’ve had many opportunities as a student, including attending engineering and STEM conferences in the UK and the Netherlands, and learning to use industry standard software. I’ll also be taking part in Formula Student when I return to university as part of my degree, and Greenpower has definitely given me a great background and experience to help the team succeed. I still have the ambition to work in the automotive or motorsport sector when I graduate, and I can certainly thank Greenpower for that.