A team of twenty-five mechanical engineering students at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences have designed and built the University’s 14th racing car. It will compete at this year's Formula Student UK and Germany competitions held in July and August.
The team's task was to assume that a manufacturer had commissioned them to produce a prototype racing car that would go on to be evaluated and put into full production. The car was required to have high-performance acceleration, braking and handling characteristics. Other factors such as aesthetics, driver comfort, safety and reliability also had to be taken into account.
Over a nine-month period the students built on the strengths of the previous year's model by improving its quality and reliability. Modifications were made to the engine with the manufacture of custom designed camshafts to increase performance. Issues from the previous year, such as problems with the pedal box, hubs and cooling were resolved.
Professor David Hukins, head of mechanical and manufacturing engineering, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for students who want to follow a career in engineering. Not only do they benefit from the expertise Birmingham has to offer in the field of automotive engineering, but in learning how to design and build a race car, they are acquiring many other skills such as budgeting, team working, decision making and management issues that are so vital to the modern world."
The students engaged different sponsors to work with them on the project, including Yamazaki Mazak UK who helped to strengthen the designs of the vehicle’s uprights and differential. Perkins Engines and McLaren Electronic Systems donated software while Aston Martin assisted in the production of the vehicle’s bodywork and engineering strategies.
Andrew Mather, the team captain, said: "This year we have one of the youngest teams at Birmingham in a long time and many have thrown themselves in at the deep end. We have achieved all of our targets and deadlines so far and are set for a strong year at Formula Student UK and Germany competitions."
Formula Student has been held in the UK since 1998. The competition challenges students from around the world to conceive, design, cost and build a single-seat racing car which is then put to the test at the Silverstone Circuit. Its overall aim is to inspire the next generation of young engineers.