The Formula Student team, a group of Engineering students, are working towards designing and building a working, electric racing car. Formula student is a module offered to third year students, but the grades are assigned for designing and building an electric racing car with the proviso of spending 400 hours working on this module. The reality is that students end up spending 800+ hours creating something really quite impressive. At the Formula Student competition, hosted by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) at Silverstone racetrack every July, last years formula student team entered their design for NR10 in class 2 (for design) and it came 9th out of 24. This was a very gratifying achievement. Thus, this year, the current team are hoping to build on this success by entering the functional vehicle NR10 in class 1 (for finished vehicles).
“students that take part in the formula student competition demonstrate their capabilities for lateral thinking and design in a realistic engineering environment”
NR10 will be the realisation of the aforementioned, praised model and will feature multiple improvements from the previous car NR9. For example, NR10 will have a smaller and more powerful motor, a composite transverse leaf spring made of carbon fibre which, interestingly, is used as rear suspension in the latest Corvette. Additionally NR10 will be notably lighter: weighing 250kg as opposed to NR9’s weight of 367kg.
Aside from the manufacturing and design, there are other important tasks the team have to consider. Firstly, they have to find their own funding, which then become sponsors that feature on both the car and the formula student uniform(see photo). A big sponsor of formula student is the bank Santander, alongside the latter are the Reece Foundation who provide money for batteries, DYER who provide milling services at a reduced cost and several others. The university also supports the formula student team by paying the competition entrance fees, providing a technician: Steve Farrell and two expert supervisors: Dr Hale and Dr Happian-Smith. Moreover, the team is guaranteed a work space in the Stephenson Building on campus, but for such an impressive project, some student participants have been left disgruntled that they do not receive additional funding from the university. Nevertheless, the staff that take part in Formula Student, believe wholeheartedly in it’s importance. Dr Happian-Smith told The Courier, “Students that take part in the Formula Student competition demonstrate their capabilities for lateral thinking and design in a realistic engineering environment. It is my opinion that Formula Student brings out the best of the abilities of the students and they consequently follow interesting careers.”
Furthermore, every member of the team has a good thing to say about formula student. Fourth year team member David Ashby told The Courier: “Formula Student provides practical experience and the chance to drive a racing car that I have helped to build and this will be beneficial to me in the future”.
The work of the Formula Student team is professional and assiduous. Moreover, the competition features teams from all over the world, thus portraying Newcastle University at the forefront of engineering research and practice worldwide. The students are working towards their goal while simultaneously balancing it with the studies of their degree. The UK Formula Student competition is widely recognised as one of the biggest and best of its kind in the world.