Four members of St Brigid’s F1 in Schools team represented Killarney at a national event recently.
Team Vroom, which consisted of Ilona Sheehan, Kayla Byrne, Ella Galvin and Grace Daly, won the ‘Women in Engineering’ prize in the F1 in Schools competition earlier this year.
They received support from Formula Female, a national initiative set up by hockey star and motorsport engineer Nicci Daly, to encourage more young women to study STEM subjects and take up careers in engineering.
Another part of Formula Female is the All-Ireland Go Girls Karting competition. The final of this competition took place, at Kiltorcan Race Track in Kilkenny, in early December.
A total of 24 students competed at the event, after which they attended a panel discussion on Women in Motorsport which comprised of representatives from Motorsport Ireland, Formula Female, Digital Motorsports, a kart racer and even an Irish Formula 1 engineer.
Team Vroom’s Ilona Sheehan was invited to participate in the panel discussion where she shared the stage with influential female motorsport professionals like Pippa Treacy (engineer at the Mercedes F1 team), Kayleigh Cole (a 17-year-old racing driver) and Laura Hannon (an engineer and author of Daisy’s 1st Race Car book).
“Ilona shared an insight into F1 in Schools and the challenge each member took on having very little knowledge of F1 or the technology and software skills required for designing and developing an F1 in schools car,” explained Nicci Daly. “It was a project they felt educated them on the sport and the various roles within it, including engineering, business, marketing and PR. It was a wonderful experience that encouraged them to consider motorsport careers after school.”
It was the first time that the four Killarney students attended a race track.
“We learned lots as there were many other key speakers besides ourselves. A female representative from the team told us all about her course and how she got involved in extracurriculars related to motorsport. This was particularly interesting as we got to see how her course opens many other doorways as well as providing many experiences that will look great on a CV,” Ilona said.
“We got to watch a number of young women take part in a racing shootout competition. After this, I represented us on the Q&A panel facilitated by Niamh Tallon of hersport.ie. I answered on behalf of our team, mostly offering an insight into the F1 in Schools competition how we got involved and the opportunities arising from this.”
The others were very inclusive and accommodating, she added.
“They were also so very encouraging and seemed to take great interest in our experience in the F1 in Schools competition. They made it known to us that there is many other possibilities in the world of motorsport and encouraged everyone to get involved in motorsport and STEM.”
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