Vice Chancellor in the driving seat

 

University of Brighton Vice Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris took to the wheel of a prototype racing car designed and built by a group of our engineering students as part of their degree programmes. And got to take the car out onto the track at Goodwood Motor Circuit, just down from the road from Brighton.

The final version of the car is expected to be entered into next year’s Formula Student contest, Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Backed by industry and high-profile engineers such as our Patron Ross Brawn OBE, the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. Universities from across the globe are challenged to design and build a single-seat racing car in order to compete in static and dynamic events, which demonstrate their understanding and test the performance of the vehicle.

Professor Humphris said: “I was extremely impressed by the car and by the students’ engineering skills and talent. I wish them every success in next year’s competition.”

Dr Daniel Coren who runs the Formula Student module here said: “Formula Student is an opportunity for students to work as a team on a high-profile project with interaction with academic and industry partners. It is a stepping stone for students’ ambitions for a successful career in engineering. One of the students is being interviewed for a position with a Formula One team and all are aspiring to join the automotive engineering industry.”

The car has been manufactured in-house using the university engineering lab’ facilities and a range of rapid prototyping techniques including CAD/CAM CNC machining, 3D printing, laser cutting, plasma cutting, and, as Dr Coren put it, “blood sweat and gears, with students working on the project evenings and weekends”.

The car is designed for short circuit autocross events and is currently geared to for maximum acceleration and a top speed of 70 mph.

Dr Coren said: “It has been designed to satisfy the IMechE Formula Student technical regulations, but also as an educational tool which will be used as part of our undergraduate studies, in particularly, as part of our Vehicle Design Module. As such, it features an ‘exposed structure’ bodywork concept allowing the main structural features to be seen, and also, clear body panels which allow students to see inside the car – the anatomy of a racing car.

“As part of a commitment to research-informed teaching, it is planned that for each forthcoming season we will apply particular focus on technical areas that reflect our growing and established research themes; such as automotive aerodynamics and advance propulsion systems.”

The UoB prototype is being built by a team under the umbrella term ‘Brighton Racing Motors’, comprising 12 third-year project students, three helper students, technical support staff, and with supervision and guidance from Dr Coren.

The university’s 2016/17 entry will be class one (full dynamic event). The judges comprise senior motorsport and IMechE figures and the competition occurs at Silverstone, the national motor circuit, each year in July, shortly after the British F1 Grand Prix.

To see more about the university’s research in this area visit https://www.brighton.ac.uk/advanced-engineering/index.aspx and for courses, go to https://www.brighton.ac.uk/courses/study/automotive-engineering-meng.aspx. For more information about Formula Student, go to: http://formulastudent.imeche.org/formula-student/

 

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