National Motorsport Academy

International Women in Engineering Day | Part 1

Student Spotlight: Rebekkah Astbury

International Women in Engineering Day is a platform to showcase the amazing work of women engineers worldwide. Celebrated for the first time in 2014, this day celebrates the women who have dedicated their lives to engineering, and who continue to do so during present day. 

Here at the National Motorsport Academy, we recognise the effort and determination that the women studying with us are putting in, and we are proud to support them on their journeys! To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we want to spotlight Rebekkah Astbury, a MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering student. Rebekkah grew up surrounded by motorsport, as her family always had a race on the TV. During College, she realised she wanted to study engineering. She has never looked back since. Here’s our interview with her! 

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hello, my name is Rebekkah Astbury and I am 24 years old! I’m studying the MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering course and I’m currently on Module 05: Multi-Physics Analysis for Motorsport.

Ever since I can remember, there was always a Formula One race on the TV. We have always been a Motorsport family; in recent years, my brother has been competing in the lightning rods category at our local raceway. I was also able to attend many events at my local racetrack, which include the FIA World Rallycross Championship and the 5 Nations British Rallycross Championship

How did you find NMA, and what made you enrol?

I knew about the NMA before I started my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. It was introduced to me by a friend who was already enrolled, as well as a tutor when I was at college. I wanted to enrol with the NMA because it allows you to complete each module online. Additionally, when I reviewed the module descriptions and saw the variety of subjects covered, I knew this course would enhance my knowledge and skills in Motorsport Engineering.

How has your time with NMA been so far?

My time has been well spent. I feel like I have already progressed and learned a lot due to the variety of projects. Whether using different types of software, researching various topics, or tackling tasks based on problems, planning, or research, there is always something new to learn.

The ability to easily contact my tutors whenever I get stuck has also helped me progress through the modules. This immediate support ensures I never feel like I can’t achieve something.

What has been your favourite module so far?

My favourite module so far is the one I’m currently on: Multi-Physics Analysis for Motorsport. This is my favourite module because I am learning on STAR CCM+, which is an industry recognised tool. Working on assignment tasks and example sections with it has been very enjoyable.

How has your background shaped your journey to motorsport?

My background has shaped my journey into Motorsport because Motorsport has always been accessible to me. From watching it on TV to attending multiple series of racing events at Lydden Hill Race Circuit. Having the opportunity to attend races in person and walk around the paddock area to look at all the teams enticed me and led me to dream of a career in Motorsport.

International Women in Engineering day - What does it mean to you?

For me, International Women in Engineering Day means recognition and the opportunity to highlight the many women in the industry who break barriers every day to achieve their dream careers, proving that we can do it too.

It feels honourable to be a woman in engineering, considering the challenges and experiences that women before me have faced in their journeys in the industry. I feel grateful to able to play a part in it all, even if it is small right now.

Have you encountered any difficulties working in motorsport as a woman?

I haven’t encountered any difficulties yet while working in Motorsport. However, after finishing Year 11, I decided to study in Post 16 for a year, taking subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, 3D Design, and Art while I considered my career path. During this time, an opportunity arose to pursue a Level 2 course in Motorsport Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, which I felt was the best option to advance towards a career in Motorsport.

Before leaving Post 16 after one year, I had a meeting with the school’s careers advisor. He advised me against studying Motorsport Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, suggesting instead that I continue in Post 16 and aim to go to University to study Art. I was surprised and intimidated by this advice, as it opposed my career aspirations in Motorsport. Despite my clear preference for a future in motorsport, he even showed me undergraduate degrees in Art.

Obviously, I did not take his advice. Instead, I thought, “I’m going to prove him wrong.” I completed my college courses in Level 2 Motorsport Vehicle Maintenance and Repair and Level 3 Motorsport Vehicle Maintenance and Repair. After that, I achieved a First-Class Honours Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering. I have since pursued further studies by completing a master’s degree in Advanced Motorsport Engineering.

Throughout the process, I have spoken to many women who work in Motorsport, thanks to programmes like FIA “Girls on Track UK,” Stemettes, and networking events at Mercedes AMG Petronas HQ, Williams Racing and Red Bull Racing. These events have helped me in my journey to be more confident in understanding what steps I need to take to pursue a career in motorsport, thanks to the valuable advice I have received.

Do you have any advice for women who want to work in motorsport?

The advice I would give to any women who wants to work in Motorsport is to not let anyone tell you can’t do it. You can. If you put your mind to it and put in the work, you’ll achieve anything you want. It’s your journey and you can determine each step. People may tell you that it may not be the right idea or that it isn’t possible, but you can decide your future. Look at local Motorsport teams; even if they haven’t got any work experience available, it is so helpful to have knowledge of the industry. Put yourself out there because there are so many areas in Motorsport where you can volunteer and speak to people who know first-hand what It’s like to get a job in motorsport.

A massive thank you to Rebekkah for speaking to us! We look forward to following along on her journey and seeing what she accomplishes next. You can also keep up-to-date with her career over on LinkedIn – Rebekkah Astbury.

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