The Right Honourable Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy, was guest of honour yesterday at the launch of a new partnership between leading global educational initiative, F1 in Schools and software giant Autodesk. Speaking at the event held at The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) headquarters in London Mr. Letwin backed the innovative STEM programme which inspires students to study engineering and consider careers in STEM subjects.

Mr Letwin , talking of the country’s needs to compete on a global platform said, “If we are going to succeed, we don’t just need science, we need engineering, engineering in its widest sense, stretching all the way from things that are being done to revolutionise medicine through to cars. We have to be at the top if we want to compete effectively. This means having a ready supply of the most able, energetic and most efficient people in Britain in engineering fields ready to serve our industries and take them forwards and convert into products and services.”

He continued, “This means recreating in our schools the sense that this is something of real value and that you can be proud of doing. The F1 in Schools competition delivers in these areas and so I’m absolutely delighted to be here to launch this new partnership.on a day when you have produced some very exciting new software and delighted to see that you are engaged in the kind of open data that we advocate as a government and a free gift of that to the world (for students) is a huge bonus. I am delighted to launch this initiative to bring high-tech design tools into classrooms. These are important skills that Britain and the rest of the World need to cultivate in order to succeed in advanced manufacturing and compete in the Global Race.”

Chief Executive of The IET, Nigel Fine said at the launch, “We know how important it is to get young people interested in engineering. The IET Skills Survey launched last month showed that employers continued to struggle to recruit the engineering, IT and technical staff with the skills that they are looking for. So we are definitely faced with the problem of not having enough skilled people at all levels to meet demand. To address this problem we do need to find ways to encourage more bright young people into engineering education and careers. So, The IET is proud to run a number of projects to inspire, encourage and motive people into engineering. We are the only global institutional partner of F1 in Schools and we share with F1 in Schools the common objective of inspiring and encouraging young people around the world into engineering and so this partnership is a perfect fit for us.”

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman, F1 in Schools, heralded the partnership with Autodesk as a new era for the initiative, saying “Being able to offer free Autodesk 3D CAD software for all schools all over the world is going to take the F1 in Schools programme to another level and also for schools, it opens a whole new world for them and put it into their classroom. “

Autodesk, with an extensive portfolio of 3D design software has teamed up with F1 in Schools to offer all students and schools participating in the F1 in Schools programme access to an extensive portfolio of Autodesk 3D design software free of charge. F1 in Schools reaches more than 20 million students in 40 countries and challenges them to design a scale-model Formula One car of the future. Autodesk is the premier software partner for F1 in Schools.

The F1 in Schools programme challenges students to create their own Formula One™ team which is commissioned to design, construct and race the fastest miniature Formula One Car of the Future; a 21cm long scale model built from a block of balsa wood and powered by a compressed air cylinder. Each team of between three and six students creates a ‘pit’ display at their Regional Final and showcases their work in developing their race car, with a verbal and written presentation for the judges. The teams will race their model car on a specially designed 20 metre test track, with the cars covering the distance in just over one second.

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