Students, start your engines!

London to host 2009 F1 in Schools World Championships in September

The Formula One in Schools Technology Challenge will hold its ninth World Championships in the competition’s founding country when over 30 teams from around the globe gather at London’s Royal Horticultural Halls and Conference Centre in September.

The World Championships of this Formula 1 linked global challenge brings together teams of students aged 11 to 19 from around the world who have each competed in their home countries and won through to represent their nation. They compete for the ultimate prize, a scholarship to City University London and the prestigious Bernie Ecclestone trophy.

The competition for victory is as tense as an F1 Grand Prix. With three days of competition, the student teams have to be well-prepared for the Championships, developing their miniature race cars to be as quick as possible – within tight technical regulations – using advanced engineering technologies similar to those used in the real world of Formula 1. It is not just the car itself which will be judged by a panel of scrutineers, it is also the students, with each team member participating in a highly polished presentation about their race team and its car as well as creating a stylish ‘pit display’ of their team’s entry.

F1 in Schools is more than just an engineering based competition; it is a cultural experience for students. It will be the first overseas trip for many of them and a chance to learn about education in other parts of the world. For some teams, it will be the first time that they have met other team members. The unique ‘collaborative’ teams are two schools from different countries linking together to submit an entry into the World Championships. With the two schools represented by up to three students each, communication techniques to develop the car include the Webex live conferencing system, email and social networking sites. The collaborative teams include Australia and Canada, Scotland and China, and England and Singapore.

F1 in Schools Founder, Andrew Denford commented, “With its unequivocal position as the centre of motorsport excellence, the selection of the UK as host country for the World Championship is a fitting tribute to the industry. We hope that we’ll be joined by many stars and personalities from Formula 1 and with many of our patrons having positions in UK-based teams we’re looking forward to involving them during our week-long programme.  The four day event will see students from across the world travel to London and take in the sites and culture of this famous city, whilst also learning, competing and meeting new friends.”

Last year the F1 in Schools World Finals were held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when the reigning Champions ‘Pulse’ from Devonport High School in Plymouth, UK, were crowned. Since this success the team members have enjoyed further achievements through their participation. Andrew Lees secured a work placement at the Renault F1 team with his F1 in Schools success playing a key role in this. Sam Wood was a runner up in the National Science competition as well as being granted a work placement with Foster and Partners architects.

Denford predicts a tough fight for the title this year, saying, “The current F1 in Schools Champions are from the UK, but I think the British teams will have a tough job to defend their title this year as the calibre of teams keeps getting better and better. In terms of the racing, we’ve seen the teams creep closer to the elusive one second time barrier that no team has yet achieved, perhaps it will be this year. Overall, the standard improves at each World Championship and I’m sure we’ll see increased innovation, professionalism and creativity from the teams this year.”

The aim of F1 in Schools is to encourage students to consider engineering as a career, highlighting the positive nature of all that embraces engineering in a fun and positive way. The challenge is for school children aged 11 to 19 to use CAD/CAM software to design, analyse, manufacture, test and race a 20th scale model F1 car made from balsa wood and powered by compressed air cylinders.

The team also produces a supporting portfolio and present in front a panel of judges to show a thorough understanding of the process. Additional credit is given to those teams showing great initiative in areas such as sponsorship, marketing, and website design. Teams are also encouraged to replicate other important aspects of Formula One teams, by creating their own ‘pit displays’, team wear and merchandise.

The 2009 F1 in Schools World Championships begins with a cultural exchange event with the students gathering to meet each other and exchange small cultural gifts at the IET headquarters in London. Three days of exciting competition precede a glittering awards ceremony and the crowning of the new World Champions. The action starts on Monday 14th September, with the awards event on the evening of Thursday 17th September.

-          F1 in Schools is the only global multi-disciplinary challenge for students aged 11 to 19.

-          The founding constitution of F1 in Schools stipulates that it is, and shall remain a not-for-profit organisation. Based in London, and supported by the IET, funds are raised through sponsorship, invested in administering, developing and expanding the challenge.

-          Teams compete for awards in the following categories – World Champions (achieved by collecting the most points), Fastest Car, Best Engineered Car, Innovative Thinking, Best New Comer, Best Team Sponsorship/Marketing and Best Collaborative Teams.

-          Working in teams of between three and six, each student is assigned roles. The team prepares a business plan, develops a budget and raises sponsorship to fund research, travel and accommodation.

-          The challenge inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership, teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way.

-          Using 3D CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) software, the team evaluates the most efficient machining strategy to make the car.

-          Aerodynamics are tested in wind and smoke tunnels and analysed for drag co-efficiency in a virtual reality wind tunnel using Computational Fluid Dynamics Software (CPD)

-          Cars are raced side-by-side along a 20-metre track at a scale speed of over 220mph, clocking just over one second.

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