F1 In Schools Challenge Addresses Crisis In Engineering

The teams are on the starting grid; final adjustments have been made, and after months of careful design and painstaking alterations, students are finally ready to take part in the nail-biting National Final of the F1 Team in Schools CAD/CAM Design Challenge.

Sponsored by Jaguar Cars, BAE SYSTEMS and Denford Ltd, The Challenge addresses the chronic shortage of qualified engineers in the UK by raising the profile of engineering in schools. (The UK needs 35,000 engineers a year to stand still, but is currently producing just 10,000 a year.) Designing and racing model formula one cars encourages boys and girls alike to use industry standard software and manufacturing techniques in an exciting and innovative way. The Challenge is working to improve the image of the engineering industry and make it appealing and accessible to young people.

The final will be taking place at The BETT Show 2003 on Wednesday 8th January at National Hall, Olympia. Since its launch at BETT 2001, The Challenge has quadrupled in size and this year more than 3,000 students, from 350 schools have competed in regional finals, vying for a coveted place at the Grand Final. Attending this will be the top twenty teams from around the UK.

Students taking part have designed their own F1 model cars using CAD/CAM software packages, fulfilling specific guidelines. These designs have been manufactured, either by schools themselves or sent via a video link to a manufacturing centre. Once modeled the cars have been tested and raced at regional centres. The winning teams from each region will be racing their final designed and manufactured cars and exhibiting and presenting their portfolio of work. This year there will be Jaguar Leaper Trophies, Age Group Trophies from BAE SYSTEMS, The EEF (Engineering Employers Federation) Trophy for the Fastest Car, and The EMTA (National Training Organisation for Engineer Manufacture) Trophy for the Best Engineered Car.

The teams taking part comprise between 3-6 pupils, and regional winners have already received trophies from the sponsors and a certificate and record for their school. The overall winners will receive VIP tickets for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next year courtesy of Jaguar Cars.

Andrew Denford, CEO of Denford Ltd comments, “ F1 in Schools is about improving the image of engineering for students, and encouraging them to consider a career in the industry. The Challenge uses industry approved software and techniques, and the students are judged on design, analysis and presentation skills, just like a real F1 design team. The Challenge also contributes to the National Curriculum, and GCSE and coursework skills.”

The Challenge is endorsed by the DfES, and the Prime Minister Tony Blair commented recently, as he raced one of the cars; “ I don’t remember school being this much fun”.

Mike Beasley, Managing Director of Jaguar Cars added, “The Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for young people to experience the excitement of the engineering industry, it really helps students to make an informed choice about their future.”

Published 5 January 2003 Melanie Carter
 

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