Driving Change: STEM Webinar with McLaren’s Matilda McAleenan

At Dell Technologies, we believe that diversity equals power. A workforce that reflects the various demographics of our society enables us to better reach our goals and create a stronger future. One of Dell Technologies’ social impact goals is that by 2030, 50% of our global workforce and 40% of our global people leaders will be women.

To help encourage this cultural change, the Dell Technologies ANZ Women In Action Employee Resource Group has launched a series of virtual STEM webinars, inviting high school students from across Australia and New Zealand to hear real-life stories from inspiring men and women who’ve forged inspiring careers. Dell Technologies is passionate about educating young adults about the career possibilities available in technology, science, engineering and mathematics.

A couple of weeks ago, students from more than 50 high schools, across ANZ, heard from UK-based Matilda McAleenan, Materials Engineer at McLaren Racing and a McLaren STEM Ambassador, who shared what it’s like to work for an elite global racing team.

After studying a wide range of subjects during high school years, Matilda went on to study Physical Natural Sciences at Cambridge University as a way of keeping her options open while deciding which career path to enter.

It was during this course that she first learnt about the science of materials, bridging the gap between the minute of physics and chemistry and the larger scale of engineering. Matilda went on to specialise in materials science during her fourth year, and it was around this time she was lucky enough to secure an industrial placement at McLaren Racing which launched her career in Formula 1.

In a high-paced sport like F1, every component matters. A detail as minor as a thin coating on a screw can have drastic effects on performance. In fact, every 10 kilos over the F1 minimum weight requirements adds 0.4 seconds to each lap.

Working closely with design engineers, part of Matilda’s job is to ensure that every part is strong, light and can handle the rigours of the racetrack. By carefully analysing information streaming through from thousands of datapoints, she collaborates with mechanics to make McLaren’s cars achieve their full potential by using the various skills she learned during high school and university.

As the founding member and co-chair of McLaren’s first women’s network, Matilda has initiated discussions around diversity and inclusion among her team. As someone with years of experience working in a male-dominated field, she believes it’s important to drive these conversations and is passionate about ensuring everybody has the opportunity to explore a career in the technology sector.

Students from across ANZ were highly engaged and asked Matilda questions ranging from car design, how to land a job at McLaren, the hardest part of her role to advice on working in a traditionally male-dominated industry. The positive feedback from each of the schools clearly indicated the student’s excitement about where a career in STEM can lead them, in this case, right to the edge of land speed records!

“It was an incredibly exciting opportunity and the students loved the insight into what it takes to become a Materials Engineer with an F1 team!” – Graham Stock, St Francis Xavier College in Canberra, Australia.

Click the link here to access the below Zoom webinar recording on-demand. (Password: .AN7q&aQ)

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