“Never underestimate where you can end up if you just ask “Why not?”, says Ana Andrade, an F1 in Schools alumna, who has seen the competition open new doors,expand her horizons and shape her future career.

The 20-year-old student from Guimaraes in Portugal is now studying Theoretical Physics at King’s College London and although her goal has always been to secure a career in research within physics, F1 in Schools has impacted on her future plans and Ana is now looking at options that combine engineering and physics, and found a new passion for aerodynamics.

Ana took on the challenge of F1 in Schools in 2013, with success in the regional finals in 2014 taking the team to that year’s National Finals, when they were placed eighth.The following year, with hundreds of hours of hard work the team, Mustangs, were runners up in the National Finals booking themselves a place at the World Finals in Singapore, where they were Runners Up with Best Enterprise Portfolio, becoming the first Portuguese team to be on the World Finals podium and to receive an award.  During the World Finals Ana also took part in the selection process for the inaugural Randstad Williams Engineering Academy (RWEA) and won one of the 11 places awarded by the F1 team.

After Ana’s success at the F1 in Schools World Finals, Matt Bell, Global Strategic Partnership Manager for F1 in Schools lead sponsor Autodesk, who had spotted Ana’s passion for engineering, approached her with a job opportunity that was too good to miss, with a role as a student expert and Fusion360 Catalyst at Autodesk. Her role consists of supporting the education community within three key education programmes: F1 in Schools, VEX Robotics and WorldSkills, as well as working with social media to promote Fusion360.

Ana says of working with Autodesk, “I have acquired new skills with Fusion 360; I got to engage with the wider Autodesk education community and I got to know amazing projects being developed all over the world with the software.”

The impact of F1 in Schools on Ana’s career is undoubted. She explains, “I could have never anticipated how much it would affect my life. Being selected for the RWEA opened up the engineering world for me and gave me exclusive first hand experience within Formula One. A year after my participation in the Singapore 2015 World Finals, this position at Autodesk is allowing me to develop further software skills I would have never obtained within my Physics degree, giving me that competitive edge over my university colleagues. These alone have already morphed my career path from a straight line into a roadmap”.

Ana returned to F1 in Schools first as a judge for the London and South East Regional Finals 2016 and then to the World Finals in Austin, with Autodesk, helping the teams with Fusion360 and the Pressure Challenge. Ana was also one of the eight students selected to transition into the second year of the RWEA and was an invited speakerfor the FIA Women in Motorsport Seminar held in Lisbon.

She adds, “The soft skills I have acquired through my ‘’F1 in Schools’’ journey havealready proven valuable in numerous occasions - from verbal presentations atuniversity; networking; multitasking or simply by giving me the confidence to face new challenges and work in a team. ‘’F1 in Schools’’ certainly had a crucial impact inmy future, giving me a boost both academically and personally.”

Ana has sound advice for students considering taking on the challenge of F1 in Schools. “F1 in Schools is a unique experience you will not regret getting yourself into. It will give you a lot of headaches and sleepless nights but you will learn much more than you can ever expect. I cannot put into words why you should do it because each student will learn and gain something different from the project. My advice: when faced with an opportunity, ask ‘’why not’’ rather than saying no straight away. You will never guess how many doors you will be opening, I certainly did not.

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