The newspaper of Imperial College London
 Issue 148, 19 January 2005
Taking Imperial from strength to strength«
UK-Thai scientific collaboration boosted by new agreement«
Cirque du Soleil in the main entrance«
A nose job«
Frizzy hair today, gone tomorrow«
New microscope gives boost to UK nanotechnology«
Lord Sainsbury visits Imperial«
Imperial leads the way in surgical training and innovation«
New programme will train next generation of health leaders«
Tea off to good health«
Success halts trial«
The perfect Formula«
Spotlight on new R&D solutions«
Imperial students are best trainees«
Cash boost for Wye’s top new scholars«
In Brief«
Media mentions«
What’s on«

The perfect Formula

Reporter’s Alex Platt met up with David Stead and Oliver Postlethwaite, undergraduate mechanical engineering students at the College. As part of their final year David and Oliver, along with 21 other third and fourth year students, are deep into the process of producing a brand new single-seater racing car, which will be entered in July to the annual Formula Student Competition, organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Image of the car
Computer-generated image of a single-seater racing car created as part of project work for the Formula Student competition

Some 50 engineering universities from all over the world enter the event, held in Bruntingthorpe in the Midlands, which includes time and endurance trials as well as acceleration and braking tests. The cars are judged by top industry professionals and gives those involved a chance to meet and demonstrate their skills to possible future employers.

The design and building of the car is part of the students’ final qualification, with each taking responsibility for a specific part of the process. Currently just mechanical engineering students take part, but the team are keen to get others from the engineering faculty involved. Oliver, who heads the team explains: “The thing I would most like to emphasise is that there are opportunities for academic projects related to Formula Student at all levels”.

David is a keen advocate of the project as well. He said: “It’s a great experience. Last year, our car broke down the night before we were due to race. I don’t think we got much sleep, but the adrenaline of the event keeps you going. It’s highly competitive and it really brings out the best in your team. Preparing for the competition is a great fun and practical project which I’m sure attracts new students. It’s fantastic experience if you want to be involved in the industry eventually and a great thing to do as part of your time studying at the College.”

Cars can be entered as a design, a part running static, or a fully running car. In previous years the College has done very well whilst entering cars at the concept stage, twice having taken first place, including last year winning the static car competition as well as the design competition featuring the running car being entered this year. The team achieved 22nd place last year with their first ever rolling car-no mean feat-but are hoping to better that this time.

Oliver said: “This year we’re only entering a running car and have gone for some added extras, including carbon fibre wheels and a turbo charger so we should stand a good chance. You don’t get to know anything about any other entrants cars until the day though, so really at this stage we’re working completely blind!”

So, how have they solved the inevitable question of who gets to drive on the day? David explained: “We’ve got some fantastic and experienced drivers in the team, so we’re all going go-karting to see who has got the edge”.

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