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Engineering fast cars

Aurecon staff

Team ‘High Calibre Racing’

16 January 2013 - Aurecon has sponsored a team from Mirani State High School west of Mackay in Queensland for the F1 (Formula 1) in Schools Technology Challenge in which teams of students build miniature cars capable of speeds of 80km/h.

The F1 in Schools Technology Challenge is the world’s largest secondary school technology programme. It involves over nine million students from 17 000 schools in 31 nations. The patron is Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone along with the Formula 1 teams who are co-patrons.

The Re-Engineering Australia Foundation has been involved in the development of the programme since its inception and manages the programme in Australia and New Zealand. Each year the programme engages more than 40 000 high school students in Australia and delivers industry-standard technology into schools which is made available to a further 300 000 students outside of the programme.

Students as young as 10 are designing, testing and building miniature F1 cars that are capable of 80km/h.

Ross Donnelly, a Technical Officer from Aurecon’s Mackay office and Limelight Queensland Chair, says that the competition is not just about fast cars.

“F1 in Schools is a multi-disciplinary challenge in which teams of students use CAD (Computer Aided Design) /CAM software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature gas propelled balsa wood F1 cars,” Ross said.

“Teams raise sponsorship and manage budgets to fund research, manufacturing, travel and accommodation. The challenge inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, marketing and communications, teamwork, and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way.”

Students work in teams of three to five with each student being assigned a role. The team prepares a business plan, develops a budget and raises sponsorship. Using 3D CAD software, the team designs a Formula One car of the future. Aerodynamics are analysed for drag coefficiency in a virtual reality wind tunnel using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, as well as using real smoke and wind tunnels. The team tests and evaluates car designs to find the most efficient car body. Cars are raced at up to 80km/h side-by-side along 20-metre straights.

Teams are judged on car speed, as well as supporting evidence of their design, verbal presentation and marketing display stand in ‘the pits’. Teams compete regionally, nationally and internationally with the overall winner receiving a solid crystal Bernie Ecclestone world championship trophy.
As part of Aurecon’s sponsorship, Noel Vollmerhause, a cadet drafter from Aurecon’s Mackay office, who has previously participated in the event, provided assistance and guidance to the students of team ‘High Calibre Racing’ for their design. Noel also participated on a judging panel at the regional finals in Mackay.

At the regional finals held at St Patrick’s College in Mackay the team won:

  • Fastest lap
  • Outstanding industry collaboration 
  • Best portfolio
  • Most energy efficient car design

The state finals were held on 11-12 October 2012. High Calibre Racing placed third overall out of eight teams in their category.

“Usually it is only the first placed team that continues to the national competition but Mirani was offered a collaboration wildcard with Split Second Racing (from St Patrick’s College) to merge into one team for the Nationals, called Alpha Centauri,” said Ross.

“We will track the team’s progress throughout the competition and wish them every success both in the competition as well as what it inspire them to do in their future careers.”

 

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