For those of you who are familiar with Formula Student, please bear with me: Formula Student (FS) is an annual competition ran by the IMechE for engineering undergraduates from universities around the world. It is hosted at Silverstone, typically the weekend after the British Grand Prix, and is a culmination of months of design, development, and build of a ‘Formula’ style, single seater race car.
If the above sounds a little ‘regurgitated’, then that is because it is; I have been involved with FS in varying capacities since 2005, so I’ve given that same introduction more times than I’d care to mention! I’m a huge supporter of FS as it supplements degree level education with a range of skills from giving technical & business presentations, generating real sponsorship income and ultimately working with a team to take an entire racecar from conceptualisation to race day.
As Ross Brawn, a Patron of the event, reminds the students, FS is actually on the of the most ‘open’ formulas in terms of regulations. In fact, it is one of the few series where traditional ICE powered cars (with a variety of possible fuels) compete in the same class as full electric and even hydrogen powered cars. You can walk the pits (with all 100+ cars…) at FS every year and without fault, you will alwayscome across a number of new and novel concepts. And don’t think these are rough and ready ‘bodge jobs’; some of the cars will absolutely surpass your beliefs of what students can design, build and race.
This year I was supporting the event in my new role as Representative for Education on the Young Members Board. The Institution ran a series of Business Networking events on the Friday which were are a great opportunity for students to listen to a number of speakers (including FS veterans) from different industries about their experiences post graduation and opportunities for graduates within their organisations. Myself and a team from the Institute were there to engage with the students on membership, careers and volunteering and answer any questions they may have.
The talk of the event were the elaborate aero packages fitted to some cars, and the shear pace of some of the electric cars. In fact, the top 3 positions in the acceleration competition were locked out by electric powered cars. The sprint competition (flying laps) ended with 5 out of the top 10 featuring wings, no doubt giving next years teams a lot to think about. Glory in the static rounds where split amongst many of the favourites meaning all was left to play for in the endurance competition on Sunday. There was heartbreak for many top teams, unfortunately including @TeamBathRacing (my old team who suffered a brake light failure and subsequent disqualification) and @UHRacing (Herts’ engine let go with only 2 laps remaining), and in the end, the overall glory went to Chalmers University (Sweden), with the electric powered TU Delft car finishing a close second and Monash (Australia) in third.
I really enjoyed being on the ‘other side’ of the competition. Friday may have been busy, but it was great to engage with so many affiliate members (and indeed the presenters). It says a lot about the lure of the competition that I could barely walk 10 metres without running into old team mates and FS friends who were there judging or merely spectating. As a result of the weekend, an IMechE Formula Student Alumni group has been set up on LinkedIn and for pictures, there is a Flickr group. And of course, there is also the @FormulaStudent Twitter account.
Good luck to all those competing next weekend at Formula Student Austria!