Team Impulse F1 has been featured in an article in AMTIL’s Australian Manufacturing Technology Magazine.
Five students - Matt Cruickshank, Tom Crookes, Michael Heard, Matt Turner and Alex Womersley, all aged 17, are gearing up to compete in the World Championships of the F1inSchools Challenge mid-March.
The teenagers, together known as team Impulse F1, clinched the two-day F1inSchools National Finals held at the Noosa State High School in December.
Ross Howard, head of the design and technology department at Barker College, says their win was the result of four years’ experience in the competition.
“They were thrilled but they probably felt more relief as the boys have come close to winning a number of years,” he says.
“The year before they actually lost by one point to a Melbourne team and they knew this was their last chance.” 64 students, from year seven and up, represented their states and territories in the F1 design, make and race program initiated by Re-Engineering Australia Forum.
An F1-style racer exceeding 100km/h
In the competition, students are tasked with designing a powered F1-style racer, which will exceed 100km/h, and then manufacturing the 30cm car from balsa, testing its aerodynamic abilities and competing.
The challenge features 11 categories involving technical and scientific knowledge, innovation, design, public speaking, marketing, collaboration with industry and car speed.
F1inSchools, implemented as part of the Australian Schools Innovation Design Challenge, is the REA Forum’s paramount engineering design and applied science technology challenge.
As part of the competition, REA Forum provides schools with three-dimensional CAD/CAM/CAE software called CATIA, which is valued at millions of dollars and used by thousands of professional engineers around the world.
The Impulse F1 team car was designed using a powerful classroom engineering solution - Dassault Systèmes CATIA, the same software used to design Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner and most Formula 1 cars.
The software enabled the students to design, assemble and test each idea before machining, using a Denford CNC Router.
Ross Howard says the F1 car’s interchangeable front aerofoil wing, manufactured using Concentric International's Rapid Prototyping facility in Brisbane, helped them claim the title - enabling the team to test a variety of aerofoil designs on the racetrack ahead of the competition.
Barker College combined that technology with Virtual Wind Tunnel software, a classroom-sized CNC machine and smoke and wind tunnels along with a computerised 20-metre race track. “The students have been using this technology to design, test and develop their own powered F1 racers which reach speeds nearing 100 kilometres per hour,” Ross Howard says.
Impulse F1 collects maximum points
The Impulse F1 car reached speeds of 1.04s over a 20m track – just shy of the world record at 1.02s. “They’re trying to beat that one,” Ross Howard says.
Impulse F1 collected maximum points across the event’s 11 categories, collecting the main prize of National Champions as well as Most Innovative Design Award and Best Team Marketing Award.
Ross Howard says the team was looking forward to taking part in the world finals, competing against countries including Brunei, England, Thailand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, Spain and Argentina, and held high hopes of winning the coveted prize.
“The Impulse F1 team is extremely confident and hope to bring the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy back home to Australia,” he says.
Another team going to the Malaysian championship is Canberra's Goshawks.
The team, which received assistance from the Australian Defence Force Academy, Royal Australian Navy and national rally champion Neal Bates and his Toyota racing team, as a part of their industry collaboration, won the apprenticeship category for brand new teams attending their first national finals.
Ross Howard says the F1inSchools competition taught students much more than they could expect to learn through traditional schooling.
“In addition to design skills, teamwork, collaboration with industry, verbal presentation and promotion experience, the students are coming away with skill and knowledge in 3D design, engineering analysis, visualisation, simulation, knowledgeware, photo-realistic rendering and human ergonomic studies,” he says. “We are opening up students’ minds to new and amazing possibilities.”
The Schools Innovation Design Challenge was established to raise the profile and awareness of engineering design and manufacturing careers in Australian schools and colleges.
Through direct experience of the technology and the processes required to complete the project, it’s hoped more students will be encouraged to explore and pursue a career in Australia’s design, engineering and manufacturing industries.
Attracted to manufacturing-related careers
Ross Howard says Impulse F1 team members, all drawn into the event four years ago with the appeal of high tech engineering and car racing, were now attracted to manufacturing-related career paths. “They have all got aspirations to go into careers which relate to this competition but not all of them are mechanical engineering,” he says.
“Matt Cruickshank is determined to become an F1 designer or at least an automotive designer, Tom is very keen on aeronautical engineering and Michael is interested in engineering. Alex has been the graphics guys so he’s keen on going into that field and Matt Turner has done the marketing side of it and is interested in that as a career.”
Ross Howard says the competition, based on a design, analyse, test, make and race philosophy, had made technology exciting for students. “It’s developed in them certainly employability skills and makes them excited about careers associated with manufacturing,” he says.
In the wake of the nationals, Impulse F1 has gone back to the drawing board to redesign their car in time for the prestigious international event. “It’s really wonderful to see the kids get passionate about something and completely consumed by it,” Ross Howard says.
“They have totally redesigned their car from scratch. They came back from the nationals knowing their car hadn’t scored full points so they wanted to improve it and hopefully create a car that can go faster. “It’s just like a mini GP.”