GKN Automotive apprentice wins Top 50 Women in Engineering award

  • GKN Automotive employee Melissa Chigubu wins 2019 Top 50 Women in Engineering award for Current and Former Apprentices
  • Awards programme run by the Women’s Engineering Society recognises exceptional female engineers and their achievements
  • Miss Chigubu is on the GKN Automotive apprenticeship scheme based at the British company’s Innovation Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire

GKN Automotive apprentice Melissa Chigubu, 18, has won a 2019 Top 50 Women in Engineering (WE50) award in the Current and Former Apprentice category. The prestigious WE50 awards are curated by the Women’s Engineering Society and seek to honour the best female engineers working in the UK today.

In May 2019, Melissa became the first Apprenticeship Engineer to join the GKN Automotive Innovation Centre, following training at the Manufacturing Training Centre in Coventry. Melissa now works alongside leading GKN Automotive engineers developing new electric powertrain technologies, benefitting vehicle manufacturers around the world. She won the WE50 Current and Former Apprentice award in recognition of her exemplary attitude to learning and enthusiasm for engineering.

Speaking about winning the accolade, Melissa said: "It's a great honour to have been recognised with such a prestigious award. When I was at school I wasn't aware of these pathways into engineering so had to convince a lot of people that it was right for me. I think it's important to let young women know that these opportunities exist, and that it is not just for men. But it is just as important to educate parents, too – young female students will never follow this path if they don’t know about these apprenticeships. I hope I can be a role model in championing gender diversity as there are a lot of talented young women out there who have the skills to succeed in this industry."

Sean Worrall, Business and Skills Development Manager at the GKN Automotive Innovation Centre, added: "It's really important for GKN Automotive to be championing and showcasing the success of women in engineering. From the moment we first met Melissa she was incredibly focused and absorbed information really quickly. Her confidence and proactive attitude have allowed her to adapt to what can be an intimidating environment for young people. We would love to see Melissa continue through our Skills Development Programme, all the way through to finishing her Apprenticeship and completing her degree and Master's with the Innovation Centre."

By showcasing some of the UK’s most talented females, the WE50 aims to encourage more women to enter the world of engineering. The winners were revealed in The Guardian newspaper on Monday 24 June, with the award ceremony taking place at the Women's Engineering Society Afternoon Tea at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The GKN Automotive Apprenticeship Scheme, a vital component of its Skills Development Fund and Career Development Programme, recruits two new apprentices each year, in addition to supporting further and higher education placement students and post-graduates. This year, the company's investment in young engineers includes supporting the IMechE Formula Student Electric 2019 programme, through sponsorship, project mentoring and technology development support throughout the event.

The GKN Automotive Innovation Centre designs and develops the next generations of eDrive for future hybrid and electric vehicles, creating systems that are smaller, lighter, smarter, more efficient, more power and torque dense, and cost effective for volume automotive applications.