02 Mar Girls in Motorsports! Interview with Margherita Carrer – YCOM Junior Structural Engineer
How did your path in the automotive and motorsport sector start?
I’ve always liked engines and cars. As a child, I chose to play with toy cars and Legos instead of dolls, and I watched F1 and moto GP races on TV. After middle school, I gave a clear direction to my studies by choosing the PNI (Piano Nazionale Informatico) to implement scientific subjects knowledge and deepen my interest for innovation. At school, It was fundamental to take part in some student competitions, sports, and much more. Beyond the fact that I won two of those competitions, these ventures made me discover that I love being competitive, and that’s the kind of typical attitude in motorsport.
Finally, when it came to choosing a university, I went for Mechanical Engineering School. I graduated from the University of Padua, with my final thesis taking place digitally due to the total lockdown regulations!
From Padua to YCOM, in the Motor Valley center, can you tell how it went?
The decisive factor in my meeting with YCOM was having participated in the Formula Student. It is an extracurricular project that lasted two years, which I carried out in parallel with my master’s degree.
Formula Student involves a very intense collaboration between students. In the first year, we learned design and theory from the team senior members, while we practiced designing and participated in car manufacturing. During the second year, we were asked to project and pass on the knowledge.
A single team follows the complete manufacturing of two machines, one electric and the other one with internal combustion. I specifically worked on the combustion machine. Within the group, there are various departments: Business&Marketing, Electronics, Vehicle Performance…In the first year, I was in the aerodynamics department, and in the second year, I worked on the chassis. I dealt with carbon fiber structures and structural calculations.
Among the various Formula Student events, the most important one is held in Germany, in Hockenheim, where thousands of students and sponsors participate. The Italian event takes place in Varano. This 2019 event was the opportunity to get in direct contact with YCOM. I already knew the company because I’m interested in composite and design, the complete car realization, and the track experience too! In Italy, few realities follow the whole project. YCOM is one of them.
I started with a thesis project where I worked on crash tests on composite material structures (tests on F4). Then, the job offer followed through. Now I am Junior Structural Engineer here.
Women and motorsport: a cliché to revolutionize?
During the Formula Student events, I was shocked by how the stakeholders would talk directly to the guys on my team and not to me or any other girl there, even though we wore uniforms exactly like our male colleagues. As a woman, you tend to be mistaken in this environment for PR or a grid girl. All professions and skills contribute to the event success, but it’s a stereotype to automatically attribute a particular role to women and that’s a cliché we need to change. Alt last, in the universities, the situation is starting to change. There are more women engineers, some even in sight, and girl drivers. At Le Mans in 2019, the first female crew finally broke the mold. The first crew in 10 years!
What values are important to you in your job?
When I started my career path, I discovered motorsport, which goes far beyond the F1 we watch on TV. Motorsport is an extremely stimulating field because it forces you to manage innovation proactively. You have to be one step ahead of others to be able to plan for your future. You must dare to try and do all the necessary research to succeed. I like this aspect very much, as well as the competitiveness with others, such as colleagues and competitors. It’s a breeding ground for innovation. You work to achieve excellence doing the best you can.
What do you expect from the future?
In the future, I’d like to cover all aspects of project evolution and play a more dynamic role. I’d like to aim to all phases of the development of a car, including the track, as it was in Formula Student, where we interfaced with suppliers and manufacturers judges in an international and dynamic environment.
And what about racing?
Why not? For now, I just practice with the simulator. Practice makes perfect! 😉