The Road to Silverstone

During this academic year, a team of engineering students set out to design, build and compete with the first ever University of Brighton Formula Student competition car, as part of their undergraduate studies. A big ambition.

During the month of July, at the Silverstone Motor Circuit, wheels were set in motion and heads turned in admiration as our students passed a series of scrutineering inspections and tests, and then drove their car onto a new page in the colourful story of motorsport and automotive engineering. A big achievement.

But how do you get from a drawing board to a race track? How do you turn ideas into reality? How do you turn a vision into physicality? Or to put it another way, how can a student take the next step to becoming a practicing engineer?

The engineering division at the University of Brighton has committed to the Formula Student competition, which is organised by Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), in a fully integrated fashion. Opportunity for our students to compete as part of their studies is provided by means of final year projects, while opportunities for students to arrive at the challenge prepared is provided by means of newly developed taught modules such as Vehicle Design.

Without a team of students, ready to put pen to paper, method into their mathematics, cutting tools to metal, this might just be wishful thinking. But our students have picked up the baton and run with it, all the way from our engineering labs to the legendary Silverstone motor circuit. A journey that has required vision, determination, planning, sponsorship, teamwork, ingenuity, calculation, quantification, and a whole lot of manufacture.

Brighton Racing Motors is the name of the Formula Student team at the University of Brighton, and Apex is the name given by the students to their 2017 car. The car is a bespoke design incorporating aerodynamic bodywork, a tubular frame chassis, a motorcycle engine, and fully adjustable suspension, geared to suit the short sprint circuits associated with the competition and capable of speeds up to 70 mph. The team has made full use of the advanced engineering and rapid prototyping facilities the university, including wind tunnel testing, engine simulation, 3D printing, plasma cutting, CNC machining, and of course, the expertise of the technical staff in our labs.

The tremendous effort and innovative required from the students should not be underestimated. In the quest for advanced learning and first class grades, all designs must comply not only with university assessment criteria, but also with stringent rules set out by the competition organisers, the (IMechE). Throughout the year, a business logic case, design, engineering specification, and cost reports have all been submitted to the IMechE, and marked by figures in the automotive engineering community who operate at the highest levels, including F1. And it doesn’t end there, these very same people were at Silverstone to witness Apex in the flesh and quiz our students. There is no pulling the wool over the eyes with people who have 20 years’ experience with F1 aerodynamics, but our students acquitted themselves with aplomb. This is no hobby shed project, this is preparation for professional engineering practice.

Financial arrangements are an important consideration for this kind of endeavour, and our students have negotiated sponsorship kindly provided from Santander Universities, allowing key technical features, especially aerodynamic bodywork, to be incorporated into their new car. Support from businesses in the local community has also contributed to this team effort, including Juarez Fabrication, Automotive Machining Services, Pipecraft Innovations, Genie, Prontaprint, and Family Store.

If you would like to find out more about our Formula Student activities at the University of Brighton, or if you would like to participate directly, please feel free to get in touch at:

d.coren@brighton.ac.uk.

You can follow the progress of the team, season by season, via facebook, twitter as well as our blog page:

https://www.facebook.com/BrightonRacingMotors/

http://www.imeche.org/events/formula-student

 

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