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Team AUJ – Stereotype Breaker

Interview By Engr. Asghar Hayat

Team Auj is distinguished for being Pakistan’s first all-girls team to participate in the international Formula Student competition that will be held in Silverstone, UK, in July 2018. But there is more to the team than meets the eye. This group of young, competent, and highly skilled ladies has buckled down to break gender stereotypes against all odds and increase the acceptance of women in the field of motorsports. The deep-rooted misogynistic traditions and values of Pakistan have long inhibited girls from exploiting their abilities and exploring new career opportunities for themselves. Team Auj takes on the responsibility to unshackle the women of Pakistan and eradicate the perception of women as weak and subordinate beings.

An all-girls team of 20 members has set out to achieve its goals in the face of all challenges, under the banner of Team Auj. An initiative taken by young female students to eliminate gender discrimination and raise female participation in the motorsports industry is gaining momentum as these talented, aspiring progressives continue to utilize their skills and knowledge in designing and manufacturing a formula-style race car for the competition.

Through excessive efforts and hard work, Team Auj has successfully secured its place as a registered participant of the competition. The team is not only determined to land a position among the topmost teams of this competition but is also prepared to have its impact on the society by targeting gender stereotypes and encouraging able women to put their knowledge and creativity to a better, more practical use.

Team Auj is as distinctive as implied by its name. ‘Auj’ is an Urdu word, denoting ‘pinnacle’ or the highest level of an activity, quality, or achievement. Not only is the name localized for a more effective influence on the minds of the people of Pakistan but it also serves to explain the objectives of the team.

Team Auj is one of the many initiatives to increase women empowerment in Pakistan but what sets it apart from other campaigns is its access to an international audience. By taking part in the international Formula Student competition, Team Auj aims at encouraging Pakistani women to involve themselves in projects that are usually restricted to the male gender and broaden their horizons, allowing them to become more independent.

Thus far, Team Auj has managed to win the support of some of the biggest companies in Pakistan and attract a great many sponsors through the unique and significant concept of the team. Team Auj has simultaneously shouldered the two very important tasks of promoting women’s rights in Pakistan and demonstrating their exemplary skills to an international audience through Formula Student, enabling the world to see what Pakistani women are really capable of.

Team Auj is geared up to set foot in Silverstone Circuit and represent Pakistan on the international platform of Formula Student. It would be a delight to see the team succeed in achieving its objectives both in the UK and within Pakistan. Indeed, Team Auj is a praiseworthy initiative to bring about social development and create a favorable environment for advocates of social reform.

Engineering CAP recently met with the students of NUST who were participating in development of Car Design competition. This is an interesting event and it teaches the participants a broad range of abilities. The students who met EC were members of TEAM AUJ, named Wardah Jamal, Azka Akhtar, Laiba Rodyna and Harim Akhtar.

They told EC that teams from all over the world participate in International Formula Student Competition. This number is as high as a hundred and twenty thousand participants from almost 140 countries that take part in this event. There are two type of competitions, namely Static and Dynamic. Six type of events are part of the Dynamic competition. The Car designed has to clear many tests before participating in the competition. If car fails to clear any of these tests it is not allowed to participate in the competition.

Making and executing a sustainable project that can make drivable cars is the theme of the competition.

“We have been allocated Car No.199” team members told Engineering Cap Magazine.  They further said, “ there are many steps after clearing business logic case, we are directed to make a car while keeping in mind it’s utilization in local market”. The team members admitted that they have limited recourses, while they are going to compete the well-equipped and technologically advanced teams from all over the world. “We are twenty members team all of us are females, we applied by our own and then informed university” They told that the university role is very supporting and faculty is admiring their step. Replying to Engineering Cap’s question “Why have you selected all female team members,” they said, “we want to show that females can do, what they think, while sitting in Pakistan we are moving ahead, we are trying to break stereotypes, we want to tell that we can not only drive the car but we can also make it, we are working for women empowerment in Pakistan”. While replying a question that how will they compete against well-equipped teams they said “As we are participating for first time our design is very simple, we are working on combustion engine, as we are participating for first time our focus is on basics, we are also training our juniors, we are telling them what to do and how to do, in this way they are also interested to participate in next year, we are creating a legacy, in this way the journey of innovation will be started”. While answering a question they stated,“Students should know that it is their duty to search, to see all around, what is happening in their surrounding, which events and competitions are taking place and how can they participate in these events, what they will gain by their participation, we will suggest students to apply for these kind of events and competitions, these are very good for learning, please participate as a team, team is very much necessary for success, there is large space for students to learn from one another, group members from different departments learn a lot from one another, we are twenty members team and we have members from MBA, Engineering and other departments, and we are learning a lot from one another”. Team members urged the government to allocate proper funds to students for research and development, they also urged on industry to allocate funds to universities for research. They said that it will be university and Industry Cooperation that will help students for far away parts of country to participate in such events, and that will encourage working on new ideas. The focus of university should be on new ideas, as much as students will work on new ideas, there will be more innovation. Government, university and industry should fund and help students who are working on new ideas. Female students should be given equal opportunities like male students, it will be helpful for growth of whole society.

This article is published in March 2018 edition of Monthly Engineering Cap Magazine. This article can also be read online in the animated version of magazine at http://engineeringcap.com/engineering-cap-magazine/

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