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JLR 'Spen King' Scholarship is awarded to Oxford undergraduate mechanical engineer

12 October 2011

Jaguar Land Rover has awarded the Spen King Sustainability Award for the first time to Sophie Wakeford, an undergraduate embarking on her degree in Mechanical Engineering at Oxford University. The award was presented at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Vision Awards, held at the institution's Birdcage Walk headquarters.

The Spen King Scholarship, which was developed in memory of Charles Spencer King the mechanical engineering mastermind behind the Range Rover, is designed to inspire and encourage the next generation of engineers. Spen had not anticipated the success of the Range Rover, but its sector setting design and technological innovation has secured its place as a British icon. It is this commitment to ground-breaking engineering that JLR wishes to evoke and inspire with this scholarship.

Thirty-seven undergraduates applied for the award, each completing a formal interview, a short essay on the topic, 'What do you see as the future of global personal mobility?' and an in-depth Q&A session focusing on the engineering problems surrounding the hypothetical issue of raising the Titanic. The competition was fraught but Sophie set herself apart from the others by demonstrating not only excellent technical engineering understanding but also for being the only applicant to address the moral issues associated with the hypothetical challenge.

Jo Lopes, Head of Technical Excellence, Jaguar Land Rover said, "At Jaguar Land Rover we firmly believe that our future success lies in innovation and engineering. We work with a number of academic institutions in the pursuit of new scientific and technological solutions to improve the performance and efficiency of our cars and manufacturing processes."

"It is critical that the UK maintains a strong focus on the teaching and nurturing of Engineering. The world over, Engineers are looking for solutions to make mobility more sustainable and the UK needs to be at the centre of that work. I have great pleasure in presenting the first Spen King Sustainability Award to Sophie and believe that she will be a great Ambassador for the scholarship. The Vision Awards are all about the people that drive change and innovation, and this ethos is echoed at JLR."

As part of her scholarship Sophie will receive £1,000 a year whilst reading her degree and a summer work placement at JLR working in her area of interest, hybrids and environmentally sustainable transport.

Sophie said, "I am delighted to receive this award from Jaguar Land Rover. I am looking forward to working with them throughout my time at university and I feel privileged to be given this opportunity.  I am keen to use my engineering qualifications in an industry facing great change. Working with Jaguar Land Rover will be an excellent opportunity to achieve this whilst continuing the involvement I have already had with environmentally sustainable transport."

The Spen King Award represents one of many JLR supported education programmes. The company is investing in education at all levels from the recently announced Jaguar Cars primary schools challenge, the established '4x4 in Schools' and 'Maths in Motion' programmes, and the world's largest university level motorsport event Formula Student, for which JLR is a sponsor.  These initiatives provide practical and academic opportunities for youngsters to fully understand the challenges and opportunities of a career in engineering and ultimately encourage children to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. 

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