Beverly Singh, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer from Port Elizabeth, will join the team of specialist engineers building the Bloodhound supersonic car in Bristol, in the UK.
The car will be used in an attempt to break the land-speed record at Haakskeenpan, Northern Cape, in 2016.
The team will be aiming to push the rocket-powered car to 1600km/h – almost 400km/h faster than the current record of 1227.9km/h.
Singh, who won the Bloodhound Chevening Scholarship for her masters in mechanical engineering at the University of West of England, will join the team next month, working alongside engineers from companies such as Boeing and Rolls-Royce, who are assembling the car.
“The engineers working on the Bloodhound are the best in the world in their fields. I always wanted to do something like this,” said Singh.
Project director Richard Noble, a former holder of the land-speed record, said more than 170 companies were involved in building the car. The project budget is R300-million.
Singh gained a national diploma in mechanical engineering in 2009 and a BTech degree in 2012. She applied for the scholarship – funded by the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office among others – after seeing an advertisement on the website of the SA Institution of Chemical Engineers late last year.
In April she got a call inviting her to interviews with the Bloodhound team in Pretoria. The team grilled on her engineering knowledge, her familiarity with the Bloodhound project and her ability to adapt to change (as she would be living in England for a year).
“The first I heard of the Bloodhound was at a talk by Andy Green [the pilot-driver of the car] so I did know the background,” she said.
A month later she was told that she had won the scholarship, which is worth about R400000.
Singh has left her job as a process engineer in Port Elizabeth and will fly to Bristol in a few weeks.
She will focus on her full-time degree studies but will take time out to be with the team building the car.
“I am so excited,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Singh said she had no idea what she would be working on in the Bloodhound project.
She hopes she will be able to join the team when the car is shipped to South Africa for testing next year.