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Asa Green

First-year engineering student wins automotive challenge and placement with McLaren


An engineering student has reached the final of a national competition for science undergraduates and secured a placement at McLaren.

First-year Asa Green won the automotive technology category of the Telegraph STEM Awards after impressing motoring bosses with his innovative idea of using bamboo parts to build high-performance sports cars.

He will now compete against other category winners in the national final to be held in London later this month (April) and get the chance to undertake a coveted work placement with McLaren, sponsors of the automotive technology category.

To qualify for the final, Asa had to write a 1,000-word essay and then present his idea to senior managers at McLaren’s Woking headquarters.

Following his presentation, he was given a guided tour of the company’s facilities by Amanda McLaren, daughter of team founder Bruce McLaren, and got the chance to see cars driven by Formula 1 legends Niki Lauder, James Hunt and Lewis Hamilton. 

Asa, who is studying for a BEng in Mechanical Engineering, said: 


“The best part about the competition is having the opportunity to spend time at McLaren. It’s such a prestigious company. Hopefully, this will set me up for life. Work experience is so valuable in this day and age, and having the chance to prove myself to them is just amazing.

“I’m hoping to get the opportunity to shadow the engineers as they build the cars and to see how the business works. I’m also hoping that I get the chance to contribute to the end product. To say I was part of that would be incredible.”

The Telegraph STEM Awards give some of the UK’s most talented undergraduates the chance to present potentially game-changing ideas to leading names in British industry.

Now in their sixth year, they were set up to recognise the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the students who study them.

The awards are made up of challenges set in partnership with leading companies. To enter students need to come up with a solution to one of the challenges.

As sponsors of the Automotive, McLaren asked students to come up with new products or processes that could be used to achieve weight benefits for a high-performance sports car, which could have the potential to be developed for wider use.

Asa revealed that his lightbulb moment to use bamboo instead of expensive carbon fibre came after he read an article about Thomas Edison.

“Thomas Edison used carbonised bamboo filaments to produce the first commercial lightbulb,” he said. “It seemed like such a strange idea to use an organic material in something that had such a high level of current passing through it. You’d think that it would just burn up. It got me thinking about what other capabilities it might have as a material.

“In my first semester, one of the major topics we covered was materials. Learning about stress, strain and all these other key parts was super important when it came to writing my essay. The entire essay was about lightweight material that was strong and capable. Having that knowledge from that semester really helped me make my essay more technical and show my capabilities. 

“The Head of Department also helped with my presentation. I went through it with her and she gave me some pointers. The University also funded me to go to Woking to take part in the competition.”

The Telegraph Stem Awards are open to students who are currently studying in the UK. The overall winner receives £25,000 and a bespoke mentoring programme. Each category winner receives a work placement with the sponsor of the category they entered. 

The other categories in this year’s competition are Defence Technology, sponsored by BAE Systems; Electrical, sponsored by Rolls-Royce; Innovation sponsored by Semta; and Healthcare sponsored by GSK. 

Asa, along with the other category winners, will now present his idea to judges at Babcock International Group’s UK headquarters in London on April 17, with the overall winner being announced at the final awards ceremony to be held in London in June.

Dr Catherine Dobson, Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Hull, said: 


“We are incredibly proud of Asa’s achievement and the fact he has already put into practice what he has learned in his mechanical engineering studies at Hull – using the knowledge he has gained to develop innovative ideas, particularly when in the first year of his studies. I’m sure an exciting and fulfilling career as a fully-qualified engineer awaits him in the future.”

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