I’d never heard of the Formula 1 in Schools competition until 6 months ago, when three 17-year-old lads; Eoin Leonard, Niall O’Donnell and Gerard Hunt from St Attracta’s Secondary School, Tubbercurry called into to the office to ask us to support them. I had no idea what was involved in order for them to compete at the highest levels of this worldwide competition.

So what is it all about?

F1 in Schools is the only global multi-disciplinary challenge in which teams of students aged 9 to 19 deploy CAD/CAM software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature compressed air powered balsa wood F1 cars. Teams must raise sponsorship and manage budgets to fund research, travel, and accommodation.
The challenge inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership/teamwork, media skills, and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way.
The challenge is a unique global platform for the promotion of Formula One and partners to a youth market”.
I’d have to say now 6 months on that it was one of the most enjoyable and challenging projects we have taken on. Not because it was complex or beyond our capabilities, but because it involved almost all the departments in our company working together. We worked on it in our own time and the team at Verus committed personal time to see the project through. It was a great thing to see it all come together. Find out more at http://www.verusracingf1.com/.

We always talk about the perfect project, the “Unicorn” to use a Silicon Valley phrase and believe it or not the Formula 1 in schools project met almost all the criteria.

Together we developed a concept with the F1 Team, we reversed engineered it into CAD, we prototyped it, we tested in Ansys using CFD solvers, we revised the design and we prototyped again. From the regional competitions all the way to the World Finals in Singapore we went through almost 15 revisions.

To look back on the project now, it was a great experience to test ourselves our capabilities and our technologies. To work together across departments and multiple disciplines towards one goal.

The F1 in schools team not only brought us together as a team but brought many companies from our region together. Mito Engineering based in Ballymote, Co. Sligo, worked with us and the F1 team on the World Finals Car to develop and machine the tiny independent axles and suspension systems, the aluminium tethers and components. The team also had sponsors working on printed media, digital media, trade stand displays, and team clothing. Along with these sponsors they also had to raise a significant amount of funding for the trip to Singapore.

Together we worked with our clients, the F1 in Schools Team, and we produced a finished product, the World Finals Race Car. It’s a great story, a great experience and if taken seriously, a great challenge for any school, company or group of companies who want to support a local Team.

We wish the lads from St Attractas Secondary School in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, Ireland, all the best in the world finals and we know they will show the world what we in the Precision Engineering community of Northwest of Ireland can do, even if it’s a schools project.

To conclude, in the words of the great Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights “If you ain’t first, you’re last, Shake and Bake Baby”.