Local university student Lottie Gilmore gears up for an F1 career
PUBLISHED: 12:32 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:32 22 August 2017
Lottie Gilmore’s dream of a career in engineering has stepped up a gear thanks to a placement with the Williams Formula One team.
Lottie, 21, a student at the University of Bath, was first bitten by the engineering bug at Burgess Hill Girls school in Sussex, where she was a pupil.
Now she’s part of the six per cent of women who make up the engineering workforce - but she says that’s no barrier to success at the team’s Oxfordshire HQ.
“At school, I just decided what interested me,” said Lottie, part-way through a five-year course in mechanical engineering.
As a teenager, she enjoyed physics and maths. But it wasn’t until the school pushed her to do extra-curricular activities via its Engineering Education Scheme, which linked students with engineering company, Photek Ltd, and she was mentored by one of the company’s women engineers that she realised it was the career for her.
“That was a massive push forward for me,” said Lottie. “When you see women in the industry you have someone to look up to. You feel if they can do it, so can I.”
After A-levels in physics, maths and chemistry, and further maths and biology at AS, Lottie is loving her placement as a Junior Design Engineer with Williams in Wantage, where she is a member of the design team responsible for the steering suspension and brakes.
Lottie’s role at Williams involves designing components to meet a specific set of requirements. This includes modelling parts using CAD software, producing engineering drawings and sending them to the on-site Machine Shop for manufacture.
With constant updates to Formula One cars to improve performance, Lottie says it’s a thrill to see some of the parts she has designed being raced on the current FW40.
When she was sent over to the Monaco Grand Prix, she says it brought home to her the contribution she was making. “To think I designed that bit of the suspension is really satisfying,” she said.
It’s a far cry from when, as a child, she used to watch Formula One on TV with her father.
Back at the Williams factory in Oxfordshire, she says she sees the team’s drivers, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll walking around the shop floor and in discussion with the engineering team.
In general, Formula One can be a male-dominated industry. However, Lottie says it’s not an issue at Williams.
“You feel like everyone else on the team,” she said. “I think it’s sometimes perceived that there’s a gender barrier when there may not be. You notice in meetings that you’re one of only one or two women but it in no way affects your work.”
Reflecting on when exactly she decided to opt for engineering, Lottie says it was half-way through her lower sixth year at Burgess Hill.
‘Engineering is difficult for schools because it’s not on the curriculum, but I think I probably wouldn’t have been doing engineering without my school. It’s vital for the industry that schools promote it.”