The Autosport Williams Engineer of the Future Award is a new annual award that will name an engineering student from a UK university as a rising star of Formula One engineering, and support them with an accelerated career development programme at Williams.
Following a targeted application process, through which eight of the UK’s leading universities nominated their star engineering students for consideration, five finalists were selected to take part in a two-day assessment workshop at the Williams HQ in Grove in November 2015.
The evaluation days challenged the candidates across a range of engineering tasks, testing their teamwork and approach, and the depth and breadth of their technical knowledge, to determine personality fit and leadership traits as well as pure engineering skills.
In addition to several technical tasks, the finalists also completed a professional development personality analysis and sat an engineering exam written by Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds. They also had the opportunity to meet team founder Sir Frank Williams.
The students were assessed by a panel of judges comprising leading industry, academic, media and Formula One personnel.
Elizabeth will now join Williams on an initial two-year placement in an accelerated development programme. She will be mentored by senior engineers and rotate through various areas of Williams before finding her specialism. During the placement, Elizabeth will also get the unique opportunity to work in the team’s race operations division and gain experience at a grand prix.
Speaking about the selection process Pat Symonds, Chief Technical Officer at Williams, said, “We put our final five candidates through two very tough days of testing. They had to handle situations they hadn’t met before we took them to the limits of their knowledge and beyond. We assessed how they reacted, how they worked together and the extent of their engineering knowledge.
“We weren’t just looking for technical excellence. We were also looking for the personality, leadership and innovation in someone that could lead a Formula One team in the future. It was a very tough decision, but we’re confident we’ve made a great choice. Lizzie had that little something extra and we look forward to welcoming her to the team. She’s going to have a tough two years but at the end of it she’s going to be a very well-rounded individual with a very broad knowledge, just what you need to go into technical leadership in Formula One.”
Tim Bulley, Group Director at Haymarket said, "Autosport is absolutely delighted to see Elizabeth Thompson named as the very first Autosport Williams Engineer of the Future, she is an outstanding winner. This award is about surfacing the very best in young engineering talent and giving them a significant boost at the start of their careers. We are very proud to be working with Williams to find and celebrate these superstars of the future".