“Never underestimate where you can end up if you justask “Why not?”, says Ana Andrade, an F1 in Schoolsalumna, who has seen the competition open new doors,expand her horizons and shape her future career.

The 20-year-old student from Guimaraes in Portugal isnow studying Theoretical Physics at King’s College Londonand although her goal has always been to secure a careerin research within physics, F1 in Schools has impacted onher future plans and Ana is now looking at options that combine engineering andphysics, and found a new passion for aerodynamics.

Ana took on the challenge of F1 in Schools in 2013, with success in the regional finalsin 2014 taking the team to that year’s National Finals, when they were placed eighth.The following year, with hundreds of hours of hard work the team, Mustangs, wererunners up in the National Finals booking themselves a place at the World Finals inSingapore, where they were Runners Up with Best Enterprise Portfolio, becoming thefirst Portuguese team to be on the World Finals podium and to receive an award.During the World Finals Ana also took part in the selection process for the inauguralRandstad Williams Engineering Academy (RWEA) and won one of the 11 placesawarded by the F1 team.

After Ana’s success at the F1 in Schools World Finals, Matt Bell, Global StrategicPartnership Manager for F1 in Schools lead sponsor Autodesk, who had spotted Ana’spassion for engineering, approached her with a job opportunity that was too good tomiss, with a role as a student expert and Fusion360 Catalyst at Autodesk. Her roleconsists of supporting the education community within three key educationprogrammes: F1 in Schools, VEX Robotics and WorldSkills, as well as working withsocial media to promote Fusion360.

Ana says of working with Autodesk, “I have acquired new skills with Fusion 360; I gotto engage with the wider Autodesk education community and I got to know amazingprojects being developed all over the world with the software.”

The impact of F1 in Schools on Ana’s career is undoubted. She explains, “I could havenever anticipated how much it would affect my life. Being selected for the RWEAopened up the engineering world for me and gave me exclusive first hand experiencewithin Formula One. A year after my participation in the Singapore 2015 WorldFinals, this position at Autodesk is allowing me to develop further software skills Iwould have never obtained within my Physics degree, giving me that competitiveedge over my university colleagues. These alone have already morphed my careerpath from a straight line into a roadmap”.

Ana returned to F1 in Schools first as a judge for the London and South East RegionalFinals 2016 and then to the World Finals in Austin, with Autodesk, helping the teamswith Fusion360 and the Pressure Challenge. Ana was also one of the eight studentsselected to transition into the second year of the RWEA and was an invited speakerfor the FIA Women in Motorsport Seminar held in Lisbon.

She adds, “The soft skills I have acquired through my ‘’F1 in Schools’’ journey havealready proven valuable in numerous occasions - from verbal presentations atuniversity; networking; multitasking or simply by giving me the confidence to facenew challenges and work in a team. ‘’F1 in Schools’’ certainly had a crucial impact inmy future, giving me a boost both academically and personally.”

Ana has sound advice for students considering taking on the challenge of F1 inSchools. “F1 in Schools is a unique experience you will not regret getting yourselfinto. It will give you a lot of headaches and sleepless nights but you will learn muchmore than you can ever expect. I cannot put into words why you should do itbecause each student will learn and gain something different from the project. Myadvice: when faced with an opportunity, ask ‘’why not’’ rather than saying no straightaway. You will never guess how many doors you will be opening, I certainly did not.

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