HUNTINGDON engineering company Lola has announced the foundation of a national competition aimed at encouraging young women to pursue further education and careers in science, design and engineering.

The contest will be officially launched at the end of January and will run throughout spring 2012.

The competition will be open to all women under the age of 25. Entrants will required to produce an original, revolutionary design for a product that is compatible across Lola's diverse portfolio of technologies in aerospace, defence, communications, renewables, motorsport and automotive industries. A panel of expert judges will assess every entry and narrow the field down to a shortlist of 10.

The competition will culminate with a celebration of young female engineering talent at a prestigious award ceremony where shortlisted candidates and the winner will be announced in front of leading British engineers, Government Ministers and media.

The top prize will go to an outstanding young woman who demonstrates ability, imagination and passion for engineering. The winner will receive a cheque, a trophy and the opportunity to further enhance and test her winning design at Lola's state-of-the-art facilities in Glebe Road, Huntingdon.

Lola said it had launched the competition to address the lack of female engineers, which it said remained a major barrier to tackling skills shortages in the wider UK manufacturing sector.

The company said that the UK was ranked worst in Europe for the number of female engineering professionals.

Martin Birrane, owner of Lola Group, said: "Lola is determined to support the discovery of Britain's brightest female engineering talent and inspire young people to pursue their passion in science, design and engineering. The under-representation of women in these sectors provides a threat to the UK's global competitiveness.

"This competition provides the opportunity for exceptional young women to get noticed for all the right reasons and we are anticipating exciting and pioneering designs to be entered by young women from around the country."

INFORMATION: Details from Sam Smith on ssmith@lolacars.com