National engineering specialist SES Engineering Services (SES) and The Mount School in York successfully hosted their 7th annual Hovercraft Day challenge on Tuesday (4th February), which aims to inspire young girls to become the next generation of female engineers.

More than 80 Year Six girls from eight local schools were invited to design and build their own hovercrafts, before racing their creations in a knock-out tournament to determine the overall victors.

Throughout the day the York girls’ Quaker school hosted engineering workshops with Year Six girls from Lord Deramore’s, Froebelian School, The Mount Junior, Terrington Hall, Knavesmire, St Wilfrid’s, newcomers New Earswick and last year’s winners, St Paul’s.

The students worked together in teams, alongside their own teaching staff and engineering students from York University, to create fully-functioning hovercrafts powered by a leaf blower engine capable of carrying one ‘pilot’ from each team along a short racing track.

At the end of the workshop, the hovercraft designs were judged by Amy Bastow, Business Administrator from SES and following a thrilling race, the team from Terrington Hall was presented with the winners’ trophy.

Julie Payne, SES’ Marketing and Communications Business Partner commented:

“There is an urgent need to solve the skills gap affecting our industry and we have to encourage more young people, especially girls, to consider a career in engineering. Many have preconceptions of what engineering means, without realising the scope for creativity and innovation that it brings.

“We must continue to work together to make sure every young person has the opportunity to be inspired by STEM and engineering. Initiatives like our Hovercraft Day are proven to help encourage young girls to consider STEM subjects later on and it was fantastic to see so many talented and creative girls rise to the challenge.”

Julie Payne
Marketing and Communications Business Partner, SES Engineering Services

SES Engineering Services has sponsored the event since its inception in 2013, which has seen over 600 girls take part so far and has been strongly supported by York MP, Rachael Maskell. This year, places were filled within eighty minutes, proving the popularity of the event, with many previous attendees now studying STEM subjects at A-Level.

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, said of the event: “The annual Hovercraft Day has been another great success and I’m delighted that SES Engineering Services and The Mount School are committed to continuing this tradition.

“As commonly reported, we desperately need to encourage more young people, especially women, to embark on careers in STEM and events like these can spark their interest in engineering. Capturing their imaginations at an early age is paramount in ensuring we have the necessary skills in place to deliver future projects which will be vital in supporting our economy in the years to come.”

Rachael Maskell
MP for York Central

Adrienne Richmond, Principal at The Mount School, said:

“This year, the eighty spaces for our Hovercraft Day filled within eighty minutes – a new record. This shows the clear demand for STEM engagement activities that give girls the opportunity to develop important skills such as leadership and communication. Most importantly, they can learn from female engineering role models like Amy from SES, and university students who show that there is a real place for women in the engineering and science communities.

“As a girls’ school, The Mount provides an excellent educational setting for our students to thrive in STEM studies. Young people who participate in events such as SES’ Hovercraft Day, will be learning in an all-girl setting for the first time, and it’s wonderful to watch their self-confidence grow over the course of the day. We are so grateful to SES, York University and our local schools for their continued support in making this event an even greater success year on year.”

Adrienne Richmond
Principal, The Mount School