Abi Summerfield

MPhil, BEng, PGCE

When people ask me what I do and I say I am an engineer, one of the common follow-up questions is, ‘how did you end up doing that?’. Like many women I know in engineering, there is often a family connection to the profession. My dad, although not an engineer, was a semi-professional rally driver through the eighties, and so motorsport was an inescapable part of my childhood.

Then one day my father asked me to contact UWTSD and request a prospectus.  When it arrived, he showed me that they were offering a course in Motorsport Engineering, I leafed through the pages and realised that this was something for me. I haven’t always been confident in maths but had a great female teacher who inspired me to do well. Having some understanding of Motorsport I applied soon after (much to the joy of my father!).

Automotive & Motorsport Engineering at UWTSD

The course was everything you would want it to be and more, and although challenging, if you put the time in, it was achievable. Following graduation, I worked for race and rally teams then began teaching on the course I had graduated from.

I now get to meet young people from all types of backgrounds and facilitate them in achieving their dreams of working in engineering. I still occasionally get to go back and work at race meetings, particularly endurance racing which I love.  The challenge of getting a team to work together and get a car to the end of a race gives you the most amazing sense of achievement! We always encourage our students to join the active race teams we have at UWTSD. If you are excited about what your studying, it’s easier to be successful. 

Women in Engineering

Through the experience of my own academic journey, I can empathise with students and encourage them to do well in their studies, to become the engineer that they aspire to be. It sounds like a cliché, but engineering really is all around us, regardless of the discipline you choose, it can open so many doors for you.

In 2000 just 25% of the STEM workforce were women, 10 years later that figure was still 25%. In the last 10 years it has gone up to 30%, which is really important, so what I say to you as a woman interested in engineering is come and be a part of it.

Interested in studying Automotive or Motorsport Engineering?

Contact Abi Summerfield with your questions.