Who says that work and play never mix? A group of 40 engineering students from UCD are discovering that valuable lessons can be learned from working on a labour of love. The students, most of whom are studying mechanical or electrical engineering, are part of UCD’s Formula Student group and are set to compete in the annual Formula Student competition, in which colleges from all over the world design, build, test and race a 60hp, single-seater race car. Next year will see the UCD team work on research, design and sponsorship. Over the following year, they will focus on building the car. In 2015, they will test their car and compete in Formula Student’s static and dynamic events, which test the vehicle’s performance. The Formula Student competition has been running since 1998 and has been staged at the famous Silverstone Racing Circuit since 2007. The educational motorsport competition is run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. UCD students entered regularly in the early 2000s but the tradition lapsed after 2006. Dublin Institute of Technology and the University of Limerick have also entered Formula Student over the years. [login type="readmore"] “The highest that UCD placed in the past was 11th out of 60 entrants, which was pretty good,” explained Sean Cleary, who is in his third year studying mechanical engineering. “It’s a big commitment to prepare for the competition and it’s all about the team working under pressure and to tight timescales, but we thought it was time that UCD was represented again.” REVIVING UCD FORMULA STUDENT Cleary has long has an interest in racing and has enjoyed success already in the field. “Our team, the Koni Kats, was the overall winner of the Formula 1 in Schools World Championship in London in September 2009. Bernie Ecclestone presented the trophy to us and we were also presented with the Best Engineered Car award by Lewis Hamilton. I was the design engineer, so it was great to win that.” All team members were awarded scholarships to City University, London to study automotive and motorsport engineering, which Cleary hopes to take up as a Master’s degree in the future. Cleary petitioned UCD staff to re-start the Formula Student programme in the university along with academic advisor, Dr William Smith (a lecturer in UCD’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering) and his classmate Sean Hynes. Hynes first became actively involved in motorsport four years ago when he began attending local autocrosses as mechanic for a friend who was competing. In 2011, he won the inaugural Mondello Park 'Become a Racing Driver' competition, which was his first-ever visit to a racing circuit. Last year saw his first win in the Irish Formula Sheane Championship, on the way to fourth overall in the 2012 championship. “We set up a Facebook page and an online forum to see if other students were interested in reviving UCD Formula Student,” explained Hynes. “There was a strong interest in reviving the programme, with 60 students initially signing up [40 of which are still active] and so we got the green light to go ahead with the project.” [caption id="attachment_2447" align="alignright" width="150"] The UCD Formula Student car[/caption] Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Andrew Frazer was one of those who signed up to become involved with the Formula Student team. “You the chance to demonstrate your technical, engineering design and manufacturing skills. You also learn important lessons on team working, time management, project management, financing and presentation – all things that any prospective employer will be looking for,” he said. “Basically, we have to work as if a manufacturing firm has hired us to produce a prototype car for evaluation, which is capable of being mass produced.” Frazer is undertaking the marketing work associated with their Formula Student entry. “I had no previous experience of marketing or finance, so it really helps in terms of developing a wide range of skills,” he added. “My final-year project is based on the financing of our Formula Student entry and it involves investigating different financing options and applying them in practice to the project.” Four other engineering final-year projects are based on Formula Student: • Robert O’Donoghue’s project focuses on the design and development of the car and track simulator for the team. O'Donoghue’s project makes use of software from MSC Adams, which is sponsoring the UCD team; • Evan O’Brien’s project looks at the multibody dynamic modelling of a Formula Student racing car – it also makes use of MSC Adams software; • Seamus Keena is working on designing the control system for an electric motor for a Formula Student car; • Finally, Liam Matthews is analysing the relative merits of steel and composite materials for suspension components and drive shafts in a Formula Student racing car. LOW-CARBON CARS Since UCD last competed in Formula Student, a new low-carbon category was announced in 2008, which is Class 1A. This category is solely for the development of alternative drivetrains other than internal combustion engines. Cars can be powered by any source and are judged on sustainability rather than cost, in addition to design and business presentation. Judges will look at the sustainability of the design, how much energy is used and the CO2 released during the manufacture of the car. Last year, alternative fuel cars were pitted directly against petrol cars for the first time in the competition. Twenty electric cars, as well as one hydrogen-powered racer and one powered by jojoba oil from Cairo’s Ain Shams University, lined up in the paddocks. “We’re aiming to compete in the Class 1A category with an electric car,” explained Hynes. “UCD has never entered this type of car before. I wouldn’t say that ‘everything has been done before’ when it comes to petrol engines, but going electric means that we’ve a lot of scope for innovation. Non-combustion technology is also more commercial, as investors are more interested in renewables than fossil fuels. So, this will keep the UCD entry at the forefront of development and innovation.” Although most of the new team comprises of mechanical and electrical engineering students, others are from various branches of engineering and they range from first-year undergraduates to PhD graduate students.  The students have just begun to develop concepts for the car and are seeking further sponsorship for the project. “We aim to raise €45,000 over three years,” Frazer confirmed. “There are a lot of benefits for potential sponsors,” added Cleary. “Their brand gets a lot of exposure, as it features on the car. The competition is covered by the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and specialist publications. The sponsors also get access to lots of extra research, as the student teams run so many tests on their products. They also get their pick of students who’ve already been working on the products and can hit the ground running – the continuing supply of high quality engineers is important to their success.” A Formula Student society is to be established in UCD over the coming year as a means of gathering more members and publicising the project across the campus. COMPETITION DETAILS Last year, over 130 student racing teams from 34 countries took part in Formula Student. There are three entry classes, designed to allow for progressive learning: • Class 1: this class is similar to the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition in which teams design, manufacture and race fully working cars built solely for the event. The car cannot be entered into Class 1 again after its first year, but can be entered into Class 1A; • Class 1A: this is an alternative fuelled class where more of an emphasis is placed on the environmental impact of racing. A car from the previous year’s Class 1 entry can be re-entered and re-engineered to allow the students to concentrate on the low-carbon aspect; • Class 2: this is a concept class for teams who may just have a design and possibly even a partly completed car. [caption id="attachment_2449" align="alignright" width="300"] Frazer, Cleary and Hynes[/caption] Formula Student is seen as one of the world’s best training grounds for young engineers and is supported by over 250 volunteer judges from motorsport and the wider engineering industry. The judges assess static events such as design, cost and presentation judging; technical and safety scrutineering; tilt test; and a brake and noise test. The cars are also judged on dynamic events: skid pan; 1km sprint; 75m acceleration; 22km endurance; and fuel economy. The winner of the event is the team with the highest number of points out of a maximum of a 1000. “Last year’s overall winner was Chalmers University of Technology from Gothenburg in Sweden, but German colleges are always very strong contenders, too,” said Cleary. After graduation, Cleary wants to work as a F1 design engineer, while Hynes aims to be a mechanical engineer with F1. Frazer wants to build upon his Formula Student experience to work on the business side of an engineering company. “You learn so much from Formula Student – it’s about so much more than just building a car,” Hynes concluded. “You learn how to work with different people, raise sponsorship and deliver on your plans. The whole process of taking part is the biggest challenge, I think.” To find out more about the UCD Formula Student project, visit: www.ucdformulastudent.com. If you interested in sponsoring the team, contact: ucdracing@gmail.com.