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Many people try to achieve their career goals as quickly as possible, but Drew Tora-Willson strives for speed for a different reason.

Having grown up in Banbury, Oxfordshire, Drew attended Blessed George Napier secondary school and went on to study a Mechanical Engineering MEng at the University of Leicester.

Fuelled by a passion for motorsport, Drew then made a decision which would later guide him into his dream industry: taking out an interest-free education loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity in order to complete a MSc in Aerodynamics at Cranfield University.

“My course at Cranfield University was technically an MSc by Research in Defence & Security, but it got this name because of the school I was studying in,” Drew explained further.

“In reality, it was a project focused on the aerodynamics of a wing tip vortex in ground proximity, with motorsport applications in mind. My course involved no exams, rather a single thesis submission. Given that was it, you can imagine it was a fairly large paper by the end of it!

“I knew Cranfield Uni had a good engineering reputation, particularly in motorsport circles, and with the course being ‘by research’, it meant I did not have to relocate with my partner. In tandem with the COVID situation, studying here felt right for what I wanted to get in to – motorsport/Formula 1.

“I learned a lot in that year. I had great supervision, and it provided some industrial exposure. For me having already obtained an MEng, my MSc really helped me to gain expertise in aerodynamics specifically, rather than engineering as a whole.”

Landing a dream job in a niche industry can be extremely difficult, but as Drew would later find, a postgraduate degree certainly does no harm when applying for the perfect role.

“Given the reputation of Cranfield, the research topic I chose and the industrial exposure to F1 during my studies, it really set me on the right course to get in to computational fluid dynamics (CFD), aerodynamics, and then eventually motorsport,” Drew continued.

“I still faced plenty of rejection, but the course gave me knowledge and confidence to get my foot in the door and navigate in a highly competitive field. Eventually, this led to a move into a role I desired. I went from studying to working on pressure sensors, then to motorsport consultancy, for which the research skills I have gained were very beneficial in particular, and from there on to Andretti Racing – where I work now. Probably a bit of a longer journey than some, but I am happy with it.”

Drew continued by explaining more about his current role as an Aerodynamics Engineer at Andretti.

“I work on the aerodynamic development and design of the car, trying to find performance or resolve issues we may be seeing in the flow-field,” he outlined.

“I cannot say much as it’s all quite restricted at the moment, but it’s exactly the job I wanted and thankfully got. Being part of the team near its inception has been very interesting, and if you had said to me that I would be in this position a few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it! All my previous experiences and studying has all ended up being relevant in some shape or form, so it’s nice to feel like each step that led me here had purpose.”

Moving on to discuss the impact that STWLC’s interest-free education loan had along the way, Drew began by recalling how he first heard about the Charity’s offer.

“I found out about the Charity via my own research, as I was searching for what funding I may be able to obtain for my course,” Drew remembered.

“For me, scholarships were not available, so I was looking for other means that would make my studies possible. That is when I stumbled upon STWLC, and what particularly stood out for me about the loan was the fact it was interest-free and required paying back over a generous timeframe.

“The application process for a loan was slick and easy,” he continued.

“I felt comfortable and informed the whole way throughout and Sarah was always clear in her communications regarding the loan. The interview was pleasant and wasn’t daunting, so for anyone thinking of applying I wouldn’t worry too much about that.”

As well as the money itself, it was the removal of financial stress that really helped Drew while at university.

“I was able to focus on writing a high-quality thesis without the lingering thought of money troubles holding me back,” he reflected.

“Without the loan, it is likely I wouldn’t have been able to make the course work (at least without putting a lot of strain on myself and my parents!), and I have no idea where I would be now if that were the case.

“I would whole heartedly recommend STWLC if it is appropriate for someone’s circumstances. They can remove financial barriers that some may face on their educational journey, and aren’t predatory in any way, shape or form so there’s true peace of mind as to what you’re signing up for.”

If, like Drew, you would like to return to university to study a postgraduate course, consider our education loan. It’s available up to £10,000, completely interest-free for nine years, and there’s nothing to repay in the first three years.

Find out more and request an application form HERE

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