Students revved up for Formula 1 in schools
There is nothing like a tight deadline and an intense rivalry to make things happen in the world of motorsport.
Two teams, representing St Brigid’s Secondary School, have been accepted into the internationally acclaimed ‘Formula 1 in Schools’ engineering competition.
Pitched against nearly one hundred other teams from schools across the country, the two St Brigid’s teams must design a scale model racing car and market their team in true motor racing fashion. Once their car is designed it will be built by separate teams in third-level colleges in time for the national finals in April or May.
The fully functioning scale models, powered by a gas cannister, will enter races. Simply, the teams behind the fastest cars will get the opportunity to represent Ireland and the ‘F1 in Schools’ world final which usually takes place at an actual F1 Grand Prix later in the season.
This year’s ‘F1 in Schools’ world final is set to take place alongside the Singapore Grand Prix in October but will depend on any COVID-19 travel regulations that may be in place at that time.
In the meantime, the two Killarney teams will have to put skills learned during science, engineering and maths classes to good use. It is the classic case of applying classroom learning to a real live environment.
Additionally, they must prepare a marketing and sponsorship plan as a real team can’t operate without funding, and present themselves in a professional and uniformed manner.
The two Killarney teams are: Team Vroom (Ilona Sheehan, Kayla Byrne, Grace Daly and Ella Galvin) and Team Mario Cart (Alanna Brady, Kate Donoghue, Meadhbh Bennett and Abbie Daly).
All eight are Transition Year students at the school and are the first Kerry students to enter the national competition that the Killarney Advertiser is aware of.
After completing an intensive application process late last year, the teams learned last week that they had been accepted in to the national programme.
The real work starts now
“The next part of the competition is very important, each team, including Mario Cart, must finish their car design using Computer Aided Design (CAD) and the cars must be sent off to the manufacturers,” explained Alanna Brady. “As a result, we will be able to race other teams on a track once the national competition comes around [subject to COVID-19 restrictions]. We have nearly finished our car design used CAD and we are very happy with how it’s going so far. Another task ahead is to find a company to design our team clothing that we will hopefully wear to the national competition in April or May. Of course, this is an exacting competition and we have faced and overcome a few challenges. However, the most difficult was learning how to use CAD to design our car. We are fortunate to have two Design and Communication Graphics students on our team which was very helpful. With the help of our mentors and of course some insightful YouTube videos – we figured out the most efficient way, resulting in our wonderful aerodynamic design.”
Across the school corridors, their rivals and school-mates Team Vroom are in an almost equal state of preparation but remain slightly guarded so as not to give away any of their hard-earned data acquisition.
“Another vital factor we must prepare is the car itself which we plan to Computer Numerical Control print in the near future,” said Team Vroom’s Ilona Sheehan. “This is similar to 3D printing but sturdier and instead of producing the shape itself through layers of plastic, it carves out the car from a solid block. I think we can all agree that the most difficult part was the design of the car. The technical regulations are very strict, so we had to make sure to adhere to these to have the best chance of proceeding to the World Finals in Singapore.”
The students’ next steps include the preparation of two 10-page portfolios, one about the enterprise side of the competition including team identity and sponsorship, and the other about the engineering of the car.
“The engineering portfolio will contain information such as the research we conducted before designing our car and some pictures of the car itself,” Ilona added.
Their efforts are already attracting national attention. Team Vroom has secured sponsorship from Formula Female. This national organisation was set up by Motorsport Data Engineer and international hockey star Nicci Daly to encourage more females to follow educational paths in STEM subjects and into careers as engineers.
“Encouraging more girls into Motorsport and STEM is Formula Female’s mission, so supporting these young women to take on one of the biggest STEM challenges in the world was a no brainer. We look forward to the journey ahead with Vroom Racing and we wish them all the best as they begin this exciting challenge,” said Daly.
This article was originally published in the Killarney Advertiser. Kerry Motorsport news is the motorsport content provider to the Killarney Advertiser