7th July 2011
Racing fun at University for future engineers - a partnership between University of Sheffield Outreach Team and PhD students
Pupils from South Yorkshire competed to engineer, build and race self powered race cars this week at the University of Sheffield.
The F1 Challenge was designed to give local young people an introduction to engineering. The day was a collaboration between the University’s Outreach Team and two PhD students from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Alex Baker and Chris Rose. In December Chris and Alex sent a balloon with video cameras and a tracking device up into the atmosphere, filming a video and taking pictures as it went. They managed to capture footage of the earth from space on a shoestring budget of £350, which has so far received over 240,000 hits on YouTube to date.
During the session over 80 Year 9 pupils from South Yorkshire schools were introduced to the world of engineering and what engineers do. They investigated principles such as air resistance and friction through hands-on experiments. In teams, the pupils competed against each other to use this knowledge to design and build a self powered race car, to race down a race track as fast as possible. There were prizes awarded for the best engineered car, fastest car and best promotional material.
The event was part of the University’s Discover US scheme, an aspiration-raising programme for pupils in Years 9-11 who have the potential to access higher education, but do not have a family tradition of going to university. The University supports these pupils to discover the University of Sheffield for themselves and to find out about what it is really like to be a student.
Kate Smith, Outreach Activities Officer at the University, commented: “We've had a brilliant first year on the Discover US scheme, helping young people to find out about subjects we deliver at the University of Sheffield and the skills needed to be a successful student. We aim to make every young person more knowledgeable and aware of the possibilities a University education can open up for them. The Year 9 pupils had a great day finding out about engineering and working with our PhD students and student ambassadors to realise their designs."
Chris Rose said: "The F1 Challenge was a great example of how a partnership between the University’s Outreach Team and PhD students with specialist knowledge can broaden local young people’s horizons. It was a fantastic way of engaging young people and encouraging creative thinking. I was impressed by the range of innovative designs produced and the levels of enthusiasm from everyone involved."