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Women In Engineering Day 2021: Hillview School for Girls

23 June 2021

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we have been welcoming more and more teams into the Greenpower family in the past 12 months. One of the latest additions is Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent, who is currently preparing to race its electric car for the very first time in 2021.

The Hillview Greenpower team is comprised of 20 female students from Years 8 and 9, all of whom are getting hands-on experience with an electric car for the very first time. Although only a handful of the team’s sessions have been able to be run this year due to COVID-19, the girls have already had the chance to practically learn about the making of composite materials for the car, and have used apparatus to test the resistance of switches and other electronics. The team has also managed to give the car an initial shakedown on the school’s multipurpose outdoor courts.

 

An F24 scratch car, the Hillview vehicle has a number of features that make it stand out from the crowd. Firstly, the car has a true monocoque, meaning the chassis is integral with the composite, carbon fibre and resin body of the vehicle. It also contains a variety of slightly obscure materials. In an attempt to reduce vibrations, jute and other similarly dampening fibres are mixed into the composite used to form the driver’s seat. However, the most special material in the car is undoubtedly a piece of T45 steel alloy from 70-year-old WWII Spitfire stock.

 

Other interesting aspects of the car include a Teensy USB development board, a 1960’s classic style paint job, and a Bluetooth derailleur that can automatically change the car’s gears.

 

In addition to the STEM and engineering skills the students are learning on their Greenpower journey, the team is also gaining valuable real-life business experience as it endeavours to find and manage sponsors to help fund the project.

 

The team is co-ordinated by one of the school’s governors, Mark Hiller, who since retiring has been on a mission to show young people, particularly women, the benefits of a degree in engineering.

 

“I want to increase awareness and get more people involved in engineering,” said Mark. “It’s a brilliant path for people who don’t know exactly what they want to do because it doesn’t close any avenues off – it’s a really good general-purpose degree. The focus is also to get more women into engineering, as it’s woeful that such a small percentage of females are in the industry.”

 

Although the school is only at the start of its Greenpower journey, the staff are already seeing the benefits the project is having on the students.

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Hilary Burkett, the Headteacher of Hillview School for Girls, said: “Greenpower has offered Hillview students the opportunity to explore a world that for many has not been accessible in the past. As a school we actively seek opportunities to give students experiences that enable them to build their character, independence, confidence and employability skills, and Greenpower does this in a huge way. It has been fantastic to see students, that have had their world turned upside down by Covid, showing such passion and enthusiasm for the scheme, supporting their re-engagement with school and their education. Greenpower offers the opportunity for students to explore the world across STEM, sports and the environment within a male-dominated employment field and area of interest. The fact that we have had such a positive uptake for the Greenpower is encouraging that we may be able to forge a link between the school and the racing world for the future and develop a bridge encouraging more girls to enter this field. Girls can often be daunted by science and the practical manner that Greenpower allows them to be engaged with science, can only support their studies and provide the kinaesthetic learning opportunities that will allow them to flourish and achieve higher outcomes.”

 

The Hillview School for Girls team plans to make its Greenpower debut at Castle Combe in September, and has aspirations of attending the International Final at Goodwood in October as a wildcard entry.

 

If you think your Greenpower team has a story to tell, get in touch with us at greenpower@sqn.agency.