Last week, Mission 44 brought together 50 young people from the local Austin area at the United States Grand Prix’s Circuit of the Americas, in an immersive STEM Inspiration event. Organised in collaboration with some of motorsport’s biggest names, the event’s purpose was to showcase the incredible array of careers within the sport, to inspire an audience who may otherwise never have been exposed to the opportunities offered by this global industry.
Marking the first-ever international appearance of Mission 44, this event forms part of our broader mission to empower young people from underrepresented communities globally. Its ultimate aim is to raise aspirations for underrepresented youth to pursue STEM careers, and to address the lack of diversity in the sector. By granting young people unique educational experiences within F1, we hope to inspire action and spark some of the change needed.
For this event, we focused on reaching young women and non-binary young people because we know that, although 40% of fans identify as female, many F1 teams report that only 7–9% of staff are women. We have an opportunity to change this, and that starts with young people such as our attendees, many of whom are young Black and LatinX students.
Mission 44 Founder Sir Lewis Hamilton opened the event with a Q&A session, after which the group was guided through a series of hands-on activities by Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team , Pirelli and NASA. From a behind-the-scenes look at the world of motorsport to experiencing what it’s like to explore the moon, our guests were given a taste of the universe of possibilities STEM opens up. The day closed on a panel discussion with the first Black woman to stand on the F1 podium and Mission 44 staff member, engineer Stephanie Travers, F1 pundit Toni Cowan-Brown, and Susie Wolff, Managing Director of the all-female driver series F1 Academy. The group was then invited to return to the track on Saturday to experience the thrill of Formula 1 track action.
We were introduced to this inspiring group of young people via The Ann Richards School (ARS) for Young Women Leaders and Code2College (C2C). ARS works with girls aged 12–18, all of whom specialise in a STEM-focused curriculum, providing hands-on experience in STEM roles, including engineering. C2C works with schools across Austin to specifically support Black and LatinX young women to complete STEM degree programmes. It also works closely with the local business community to ensure young women can enter and progress within the STEM industry.
“This is new information and I love it. It’s eye opening. I get to see all these mechanical engineers, the sustainability elements, and how it’s playing a role in real life. This male dominated field, I don’t really see it as a barrier – I see it as a challenge, I’m ready. I will go out there and represent whatever I can for females, people of colour and STEM.”
“For too long, young people from diverse backgrounds have been underrepresented in Formula 1, motorsport and STEM. Mission 44’s event at the US Grand Prix was an opportunity to spark change and inspire young people to believe they have a place in the industry, no matter what their background.”
This United States Grand Prix event represents the beginning of an exciting new chapter that will see Mission 44 expand our reach internationally over the coming years.
Thank you to all of the Mission 44 partners who made this event possible: