Nissan Inspires The Next-Generation Of Local Engineers With “Driving Innovation” Event

Inspiring the next generation of engineers, Nissan gave a rare glimpse behind the scenes of its Research and Development facilities to 150 youngsters through a new “Driving Innovation” workshop.

Local teens from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Milton Keynes areas discovered more about the 35-year history of Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) in Cranfield and were immersed in the process of developing vehicles that we see on the roads today.

Created in partnership with Proactive Young People, the one-day event showcased the exciting world of STEM careers with a focus on science and technology, with activities and workshops highlighting the variety and opportunities available in the automotive industry.

Students were greeted by employees from Nissan’s R&D and Total Customer Satisfaction teams, who provided an overview of the latest Nissan European models – Qashqai, JUKE and LEAF – all of which were engineered in Cranfield. Students then spent most of the day in hands on, experiential workshops which included:

  • Using chocolate for welding and construction to showcase material strength and structural integrity
  • Demonstrating vehicle safety in collisions by simulating body structure through crashing eggs
  • Using Air Zookas, an air cannon that delivers a soft ball of air, to showcase airflow and aerodynamics
  • 3D printing gearboxes and strategically arranging powertrains to showcase their role in optimising vehicle performance and fuel efficiency

Each workshop was led by a Nissan expert, who provided insights on how the activity relates to the vehicle development process on site and explained how vehicle development has evolved and advanced during the site’s 35-year history.

Speaking shortly after opening the event, Yuri Rodrigues, Regional Vice President, Total Customer Satisfaction, Nissan AMIEO (Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, Oceania), said: “What better place to see top-class engineering first-hand, than at the heart of our technical centre here in Cranfield. Recognising that diversity in STEM contributes to a more innovative and inclusive future, it was a pleasure to open our doors to young minds, providing them with a hands-on experience to spark curiosity for the automotive world.”

Throughout the event, the students also had an opportunity to learn about Nissan’s efforts in Motorsport (NISMO) with a Nissan Formula E car on display and to hear about careers at Nissan, as well as the Nissan Possibilities Project, which was created to leverage Nissan’s technologies, resources, and expertise to provide opportunities for individuals from underrepresented communities.

David Moss, Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Nissan AMIEO, who led the afternoon session, said: “It was fantastic to meet so many future innovators. Throughout my 35-year career at Nissan, our teams have always dared to do what others don’t, and that is what makes us different. As the automotive industry goes through a monumental shift, our R&D expertise is only as strong as the calibre of engineers we bring on board and there’s nothing more exciting than inspiring the next generation.”

Building on 35 years of R&D excellence, NTCE has a strong history of collaborating with local partners. “Driving Innovation” was organised in collaboration with Proactive Young People which supports school students in making positive links with businesses. Samantha Fitzgerald, Director for Proactive Young People, who led the partnership, said: “Inspiring students through real-world experiences and hands-on workshops is crucial for career planning. It’s fantastic to be working with such a large local employer like Nissan to offer students ample opportunities to explore careers in science and technology. I am confident that this partnership will play a vital role in inspiring the next generation of engineers in this area.”