Sally Nicholson's leading role in the design of a Newcastle University racing car impressed the judges of the Ford WISE prize, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.
Sally, 22, who is studying Mechanical and Automotive Engineering at the University, won the prize, in a competition organised by the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) campaign.
This award is made annually to promote the achievements of the best women undergraduates in all engineering disciplines. The competition is very strong, with entrants from Britain’s leading universities.
A keen follower of Formula One, Sally, from Bingley, West Yorkshire, has a long-standing ambition to be a Formula One Engineer.
While studying for her degree, Sally became the team manager for the Newcastle University 2008 entry in the IMechE 'Formula Student' racing car competition. During 2006-07, the team (pictured below) designed 'NR5', the fifth car in the Newcastle Racing series, and is now building it to race in the 2008 competition.
Sally, who will graduate with an MEng degree in the summer, received her £1,000 prize at the Young Woman Engineer of the Year award ceremony in London (pictured below).
The Ford WISE prize is run in collaboration with Ford, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology to recognise and reward exceptional women who are about to graduate into the workforce. It also promotes engineering as a career.
Graham Hoare, Ford Motor Company's engineering director heading up Dunton technical centre, who attended the award ceremony, said: 'The enthusiasm and passion shown from all finalists has been quite inspirational and it reinforces Ford's commitment to encouraging young women to consider engineering as a career.'
Sally and the comptition's two other finalists have all been invited to a tour of Ford's Dunton technical centre in Essex, the UK's largest automotive research and development facility, staffed by an engineering team of more than 3,000.
Sally said: 'Winning the Ford WISE prize is a great achievement. It has boosted even more my enthusiasm to strive for a successful career in engineering. It is a very exciting time to be entering engineering and it is fantastic that women's contributions are being encouraged.'
'Since a very young age I have always been interested in engineering and have been brought up surrounded by it. Many an afternoon of my childhood was spent ‘helping’ my dad in his home workshop, building model steam locomotives. From the age of 10, I was a member of a local engineering society, with which I am still in contact. Choosing the career path of engineering seemed the only right thing to do for me.
'Studying Mechanical Engineering at university has increased my enthusiasm for the subject. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my studying time, which I hope is reflected in my academic grades. I particularly enjoy the more technical aspects of engineering for example thermodynamics and stress analysis, and I hope I will be able to apply the knowledge I have gained to my future jobs.
'I hope that choosing engineering as my career path will allow me to enjoy my job as much as I have enjoyed my degree course. The opportunities for graduate engineers are excellent, and I have been pleasantly surprised about the demand there is for recruiting graduating engineers. I feel very confident about the decisions I have made in choosing Mechanical Engineering as my career choice. The prospect of employment is a challenge I am looking forward to taking.'
* Press release compiled by Newcastle University Press Office in collaboration with the WISE campaign.
published on: 6th February 2008