Atlanta, Georgia – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) employees had a rare and close encounter with Formula One racing “Team Shift,” who paid a visit to their Atlanta headquarters on June 22. No, they are not one of Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One teams. Rather, Team Shift is comprised of four young women from the Greater Atlanta area who compete in F1 in schools, the largest and most successful school-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program in the world.
F1 in Schools challenges students ages 9-19 to design, build and race a Formula One model car that is catapulted via CO2 cartridges down a track of only about 30 feet. Because of the short track distance, the difference between victory and defeat can be determined by 1/100th of a second.
In May, the team of high school freshmen Kelly Fitzgerald, Sabine Saldanha, Claire McCoy and Anna Awald won the national competition at Michigan International Speedway. They’re the first all-female team to garner that honor in an area that traditionally has been dominated by men. Team Shift is now preparing for the World Championships in Abu Dhabi at the end of October, where they will represent the United States against 38 other teams.
To gain the upper hand in an extremely fierce competition, the girls are building a completely new and further developed race car, applying the latest CAD methods and aerodynamic computer programs. Yet, instead of a high-tech laboratory their workshop is in one of the families’ garage and instead of teams of highly specialized engineers they have to rely on their own creativity and imagination.
“F1 in Schools and the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) International has provided Team Shift with an educational experience well beyond the classroom,” said Team Shift coach Liz Fitzgerald. “They have had the opportunity to not only apply their engineering, technology and design skills but also learn the power of teamwork. These are lessons they will carry throughout their lives. Participating in Abu Dhabi will be the pinnacle of the team’s racing endeavors, but to get there, we are in dire need of further sponsorships and individual donations, however small.”
Porsche Cars North America is supporting Team Shift’s efforts to promote engineering and technical professions among high school students. PCNA’s German parent company, Porsche AG, is a main proponent of the German government’s initiative “Girls for Cars” where automotive apprenticeships are dedicated to female candidates.