Formula Female launched the Go Girls Karting & STEM initiative in 2019 in collaboration with Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland and Cjj Motorsports.
The program, designed to open the world of Motorsport to young teenage girls through a karting & STEM workshop and Karting Academy.
Since 2019, over 2,500 school girls from all over Ireland have taken part in the program.
A Pathway to Participation in Motorsport
The Go Girls Karting & STEM workshop put Students into the roles found within Motorsport teams such as Data Engineers, Mechanics, Drivers & more. The initiative not only opened the world of motorsport and the career opportunities through STEM but it also provided a pathway to participation through the Go Girls Karting Academy.
The Go Girls Academy ensured the most talented and most motivated students could remain in the sport. The top 8 drivers, identified through the Go Girls provincial Karting competition advanced to the Go Girls Academy to compete in a round of the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship. Students with a motivated interest in STEM were invited to join the academy to gain more experience working in the industry to fulfil roles such as as engineers and mechanics.
The Academy discovered new female talent that would continue competing in the Karting Championships or continue their studies towards a career in STEM and Motorsport.
The Go Girls program also helped secure internships and careers with F1, US sportscars and other professional racing teams.
Below are some of the inspiring stories of those involved in the Go Girls Program
Pippa Traecy - (Former Go Girls Mentor & Engineer at Mercedes AMG F1 team, Current trackside Engineer for Aston Martin F1 Team.)
Motorsport Platform for STEM Education
It has become evident in recent years that there is a need for more people to be educated in the fields of STEM. It feeds our industries and it drives innovation. What is even more evident is the gender imbalance, with women greatly underrepresented in STEM industries.
In 2017 Ireland's STEM Education & Implementation plan was released with two key ambitions;
To increase by 40% the number of females taking STEM subjects for leaving cert
To increase participation in out of school STEM learning opportunities & STEM career activities.
The Go Girls STEM workshops was designed to give young girls an insight into the world of Motorsport, whether it's competing as a driver or undertaking a career through STEM.
Using Motorsports as a platform to teach STEM education provides a new way of thinking for students who need something different in order to learn.
STEM exercises in connection with Motorsport gives students an avenue to apply what they learn in the classroom to real world examples. It enables them to get excited about what they are learning and to be able to translate the theory into something that is real and fun.
Those well versed in STEM have options to start a career in many different disciplines as well as Motorsport.
STEM IN MOTORSPORT
Motorsport is the pinnacle of cutting-edge technology & engineering. Innovations from the Motorsport industry are continuously inspiring technological advances throughout the rest of the world.
Data acquisition systems used to process real time racing telemetry data is also helping hospitals improve their response time for critically sick patients.
Subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering & Math's are the foundations of Motorsport and offer a wide variety of career opportunities within the sport. Where science meets speed, Motorsport is a high paced, high energy and highly exciting place to work.
How STEM integrates with Motorsport
When we think of Science, we think of physics and chemistry. When we think of Physics we think of forces, mass, acceleration and velocity; all large factors in Motorsport because speed is important to win races. Science is used to determine the optimal forces on the car through each section of the race track in order to achieve the optimal lap time. Other factors used widely in Motorsport include work, power and energy.
Chemistry is another scientific category found in Motorsports. Fuels and tires are important for overall performance of the car. Different tire compounds are made to react differently with pressure and temperature, and it is up to the engineers to determine the optimal working chemistry between heat and pressure of each compound.
Motorsport, as we know is at the cutting edge of technology. Data acquisition systems and telemetry are used to measure and improve both driver and car performance. The data acquisition system is basically an on-board computer, measuring every movement of the car. Hundreds of sensors are fitted to measure suspension travel, aerodynamic loading, ride height, driver inputs (Brake, speed, gear changes) as well as engine parameters.
The engineers use the data to understand where time is lost or gained so they can make decisions on how to improve the car or the driver. This technology is crucial in saving teams time and maximizing their time on the track to find the optimal settings for the car.
Saving time is key in Motorsport and technologies such as a simulator is widely used in all levels of Motorsport. Simulators allow teams and drivers to experiment with different setups or parameters without the expense or time of going to the track.
Engineering is probably the most important aspect of Motorsport. Engineers design, build and tune the cars to go as fast as efficiently possible. Motorsport provides a platform for all types of engineers, from engine development engineers, material and composite engineers, electronic and data engineers, tire engineers and race performance and strategy engineers to name a few. Most Motorsport engineers would have studied a bachelor's degree in some form of engineering, science or math's. The basic principles of these subjects are what guides high performance in Motorsport, so any of these degrees from college are the foundation to achieving a career in motorsport.
Math's and engineering work together in Motorsport. Engineers need math's in order to do their job. Engineers use math to determine race strategy, fuel strategy and precise measurement. They can use math channels on the data acquisition system to perform predictive analysis in order to understand which configurations or changes on the car will lead to the most favorable results.
The suspension setup on the car is one big geometry equation. The geometry of the suspension is crucial because it determines the balance of the car through the corners. Engineers fine tune the geometry in order to balance the weight distribution and forces acting on the car. A well-balanced car will be able to enter and exit the corner using maximum grip of the tires while accelerating out of the corner as quickly and early as possible.
Formula Female's Go Girls Karting Initiative aims to
ENGAGE a large number of females from all over the country with taking part in the sport.
EDUCATE them, by bringing STEM subjects to life and demonstrating their place in Motorsport. Educate them on the career opportunities available through studying STEM subjects.
EMPOWER young females to believe Motorsport is not a man's world. Empower them to break boundaries and believe that this is something that they can do and they can be. By seeing it and experiencing it gives them the power to be it.
RACING AS A SPORT, DRIVERS AS ATHLETES
There are a lot of people who believe Motorsport is not a sport and that racing drivers should not be considered athletes, but that is mostly because they don't understand exactly what being a racing driver involves. They think it is easy to just sit in the car and drive around in circles, but if you look up the word athlete you will find that it comes from the Greek root Atlon, meaning “Compete for a Prize”
Merriam Webster gives the definition of an athlete as someone who “is trained or skilled in exercises requiring stamina, strength and agility”
Racing is one of the most demanding sports on the cardiovascular system. Drivers heart rates will reach 180bpm for a 2-hour race period, which puts them on par with marathon runners, except that racing drivers will do this under extreme conditions and temperature of over 1000F.
Racing driver's strength lies in their core muscles and their neck. They have to be slim in order to keep the car light, but during braking, cornering and acceleration, drivers necks and core muscles will experience gravitational forces (G-force) which can be up to 4-5G in a formula 1 car. Normally, their neck and head weighs around 7kg with the helmet on, however an additional 5G is essentially having up to 35kg worth of force pulling against your head and body.
Most people think of agility as a physical trait displayed on a pitch or a tennis court, but the agility of racing drivers is extraordinary. Their level of concentration and hand eye coordination is higher than most field sport athletes. Batak reaction boards are used to test their speed and precision.
The makings of a great athlete do not only come from the body but they also come from the mind.
It is an area that gives racing drivers an edge over other athletes in world sports. Their brain is constantly functioning at a very high level. They cannot switch of for even a second. This requires extreme training of the mind. Running mentally through the procedures and corners one by one, visualizing reference points for braking and turn in consistently for every lap. It requires extreme mental concentration.
It also requires a high level of intelligence. Drivers are the main source of feedback to the engineers and mechanics. They are feeling every bump, every movement in the car. They need to understand the dynamics and engineering principles in order to understand what and why the car is doing what it is doing.
Motor racing is a sport and racing drivers are athletes. They are some of the highest performing athletes that require complete control over their mind and bodies to remain in the zone at over 200mph for over 2 hours.