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International Women in Engineering Day: Sarah Bonnell School share their experience

23 June 2020

This International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), we are sharing stories from our current and past participants.

In February, the Greenpower team from Sarah Bonnell School was invited to speak at our annual networking event, held at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) in London. Speaking to a room full of adults can be incredibly daunting, but the team carried themselves professionally and captivated the audience!

In a wide-ranging talk, they gave an insight into their personal developments, the engineering struggles they have overcome, and their ambitions of careers in the STEM industry.

The impact of the Greenpower challenge

“Sarah Bonnell School is an all-girls school from Stratford in East London and we have been participating in the Greenpower challenge for just under a year, and it has been a great experience. We are young, empowered women who are passionate about STEM, especially engineering. The challenge has allowed us to broaden our knowledge and take on lots of opportunities.”

“We are all dedicated to the Greenpower challenge. It’s something we’ve never done before in our school, and we hope that we can continue this for years to come as a legacy.”

“We come from a diverse background which lacks a lot of financial support, so for us to take this opportunity is a great privilege. The team is all studying towards our GCSEs and the Greenpower challenge has allowed us to consider engineering as a path for us to pursue in the future. Coming from a background where there are many stereotypes that women shouldn’t be in the engineering field, a lot of us weren’t aware it was an option for us and now we’ve broken this stereotype.”

“Thanks to Greenpower and national partners such as Siemens, Ford, and the IET, we have gained new experiences and skills such as critical thinking, resilience, and communication. We’ve demonstrated this throughout the process of building our race car, as well as on the track, and we’ve discovered a passion for STEM.”

Learning on the journey

“Throughout the process, we did face many challenges individually and as a team. These were often hard to overcome, but we managed to solve them. One example was the rod that controlled the steering wheel was too short, so we were struggling to get our steering working for quite a while. We didn’t let this stop us, we took the situation into our own responsibility. We contacted Greenpower who sent us another rod, and although we did lose a bit of time on building, we built ourselves us and continued with our journey.”

“Just as we thought we had faced all our challenges, on race day there were a few more that set us back. The plastic surrounding the wires on the engine started to melt because we hadn’t added an extra plastic layer. Our tyres were slowly ripping from the friction on the race track. Thankfully, an experienced team realised our tyres weren’t good enough and they loaned us their spare tyres.”

“Transporting the batteries was another problem we faced, as they are heavy and we needed to travel long distances with them which lost us time. In future, we will ensure we have a way to transport equipment from one place to another quickly, such as taking a trolley with us.”

“Another problem that we faced was communication on the day. The distance from our shelter to the pit lane was quite long, and we had to run back and forth just to send a message. It was quite tiring! Our plan for our next race is to ensure we have walkie talkies so it will be a lot easier to communicate with the rest of our team.”

Inspiring the next Greenpower generation

“Although the Greenpower challenge benefits our future immensely, we wanted to use it to show other young females In our community that a career in STEM shouldn’t be a dream, but it is something we can all attain. Only 24% of jobs in Stem ae occupied by women, and we want to demonstrate that anyone can work in the industry. We want to break barriers that women face today and open doors to a new future. Without the support of Greenpower, this couldn’t have been done.”

“We are going to recruit more people from our school to work with us and be a part of our team. We are going to do assemblies in our school, and produce posters and advertising coverage of what we have done so far, and what we are going to do in the future.

“Through this, we are also raising awareness about women working in STEM. As an all-girls school, we think its right to raise awareness about how women can contribute to STEM and how we can broaden our thinking to achieve the bet that we can.”