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Jobs that make a difference: Centre Manager for CDT in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems

Yvonne Ascott is the Centre Manager for Bath's EPSRC CDT in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (AAPS). More on how her job is making a difference.

Yvonne Scott at her pc at the centre
“What the team here is doing is so important. We are all contributing in our own individual ways to finding solutions to the single biggest threat facing humanity – climate change.”

Helping Shape the Future of Mobility

Yvonne Ascott is Centre Manager within the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (AAPS) at the University of Bath – a Centre dedicated to training the next generation of industrial, research, and policy leaders in Automotive Propulsion.

Launched in 2019, the Centre provides a stimulating and supportive PhD training programme that supports postgraduate students to pioneer and shape the transition to clean, sustainable, and affordable mobility including supporting the development of ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles.

What the team here is doing is so important. We are all contributing in our own individual ways to finding solutions to the single biggest threat facing humanity – climate change.

Responsible for delivering the strategic vision of AAPS, Yvonne oversees the Centre’s resources and administrative team with overall responsibility for strategic planning, marketing, communications, industry engagement, financial management, and governance.

One of Yvonne’s main responsibilities is to attract the best and brightest minds from diverse disciplines to join AAPS, a four-year transdisciplinary research programme that includes a one-year MRes training programme, followed by a three to four-year PhD.

We need to empower the population to embrace a zero-emission future. It’s incredibly rewarding to see our students define the future of clean mobility through their research.

This is a grand challenge – engineers aren’t going to solve this problem alone. We also recruit chemists, psychologists, environmental scientists, and mathematicians to our programme, among others. By working together, this remarkable group of passionate researchers has the opportunity to challenge, explore and change the automotive industry, while opening up the possibilities that will usher in a true transformation of mobility.

Describing herself as a ‘Research Connector’ Yvonne ensures that the Centre’s students engage with the right people, businesses, supervisors, and key transport industry stakeholders to get the very best outcome for their research.

I work with a number of stakeholders across a number of areas. Hearing about their work in different fields is like putting together a giant dot-to-dot which, when you connect it up correctly, helps identify areas of joint interest and overlap. By bringing those people together, they can have a greater impact than working in isolation.

Yvonne joined the University of Bath in 2012 after a number of years working in sales and marketing. She worked across a variety of functions before arriving in the role of Centre Manager at the AAPS CDT at its’ launch in 2019 which Yvonne likens to launching her own start-up venture.

I do feel like I’ve landed in the right place.

The combination of problem solving and creativity in engineering are two things I really enjoy, and the challenge and variety of my role make it a really great fit for me.

Despite having really enjoyed studying science at school, my 18-year-old self was quite taken with the idea of being a journalist and thought it would be a good idea to study Politics at University. Careers advice wasn’t great at my school, and I can’t remember anyone ever saying anything to me that suggested science and engineering could be a real career for me, so it’s interesting that I’ve found my way here via a different route.

Yvonne firmly enjoys both her student-facing and industry-facing role. Whether it’s coordinating a series of network events with industry partners or working with her team to improve the mental health and wellbeing of students - no two days are the same.

It's nice to work somewhere that lives by its values.

In my role here at the CDT, I feel like I have a voice, my opinion is valued and respected and I feel supported and welcomed by all my colleagues. It hasn't always been that way in my career, and I think it's good to celebrate it where you find it. It’s the supportive, open culture and collaborative working I like, which has a lot to do with the team I work with. I enjoy chatting with colleagues to find solutions to problems and feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to learn new things every day.

Yvonne’s passion for inspiring the next generation is clear and if she can find the time, she would like to continue to support the University’s widening participation efforts and encourage the next generation of future female engineers to study at Bath.

Next steps… well,

I’d really like to find ways to bring what our students are doing out into the community so that young people from different backgrounds, especially young girls, can feel inspired and see the real career possibilities open to them when choosing to study STEM subjects.