IMechE's Formula Student event saw students from all over the world race F1 cars they built from scratch at Silverstone race track; The Manufacturer reports trackside.
The event – which had its 20-year anniversary and finished last Sunday (15 July) after five days of competition – saw the brightest undergraduate students from all over the globe build an F1 vehicle, to compete for the Formula Student title.
Cars were judged in two divisions; Class 1 and 2. Class 2 was a concept class, for teams who have a project and plan to build a Class 1 car, teams were able to enter both categories.
For the Class 1 competition, universities were ask to produce a high performance prototype for a single-seat race car for autocross or sprint racing and present this to a hypothetical manufacturing company.
The division was split in to two sections; static events, this tested the team’s logic, design and costing skills and dynamic events, which tested performance and durability of the car.
- Tilt, brakes and noise test
- Cost and Manufacturing
- Business plan
- Technical and safety scrutineering
- Skid pad
Formula Student saw 83 Class 1 teams and 35 Class 2 teams from over 30 different countries make it to Silverstone, with the event being Europe’s most established educational engineering competition.
Australia’s Monash University came top of the Class 1 division with their petrol vehicle, and also achieved third with their electric vehicle, with Oxford Brookes University taking the silver spot. In total, UK universities obtained half of the top ten positions.
Throughout the day it became clear that the students were all focused and motivated to work as cohesive teams, but also to engage with other teams, perhaps even their future colleagues. As the day progressed, and testing got underway the students could see their work paying off as their cars took to the track.
The Manufacturer speaks to undergraduates at Formula Student
The Manufacturer attended the event (13 July) and spoke to student engineers from all over the world about their experiences and hopes for the future as undergraduates at Formula Student.
Jake Grant, a mechanical engineering student from City University, spoke to The Manufacturer about their university’s Formula Student journey, he said: “It has been hectic, but it is real experience. There are 21 people in the team and we’ve had to micro-manage and undertake processes that gain this practical experience.”
Heriot-Watt university students told The Manufacturer that their car is over 80% new this year, having competed in the event for several years previously, and that the competition has been “tough” but “exciting”.
Mechanical engineering students from UWE, told The Manufacturer that the experience has revolved around “time-management” and that at UWE, they train up foundation students to gain experience to continue the competition in years to come.
Encouraging more young people into the sector
Cambridge undergraduate, Jon Stafford, told The Manufacturer the Formula Student event has been “really enjoyable” and that “the practical experience is great”.
Stafford added on how he believes the manufacturing sector is viewed from a young person’s perspective: “I think manufacturing is undervalued and the sector needs to be promoted. Young people’s mindsets need to be challenged as often they are already set, they think manufacturing is hitting things with a hammer when you know, it’s not.”
Comparatively, Technical University of Munich told The Manufacturer about how engineering is seen as an appealing career in Germany, particularly the automotive industry with many of their team already planning a future in the industry.
Speaking to some of the judges midway through the day, they said the event offered young people the presentation skills they might not normally have the opportunity to undertake, as well as the “invaluable practical” experience of actually building an F1 car.
The Manufacturer spoke to the University of Birmingham’s – who placed sixth in Class 1 – engineering students, Chloe Weyham and Hannah Swinbourne.
Swinbourne said: “Our team is made up of 34 people and the experience Formula Student offers, you wouldn’t get otherwise. It has given me confidence, time-management skills and more extra curricular activities.”
Weyham added on the stereotype of being an engineering student: “When I tell me family and extended family I study engineering, they always say ‘I can’t imagine you in overalls’, the stereotype is very strong, but it doesn’t matter to me.”
From the event, it was clear that many of the students were going to forge a career in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, and were excited at the prospect of a career in these industries.
Class 1 results (top 10)
- Monash University (Australia)
- Oxford Brookes University
- Monash University (EV)
- Technical University Munich (Germany)
- University of Sheffield
- University of Birmingham
- Poznan University of Technology (Poland)
- University Of Texas Arlington (US)
- Queen’s University Belfast
- Loughborough University