Oxford Brookes Racing – Formula Student at Oxford Brookes University

So Formula Student is basically a group of 110 students or somewhere around that number who all come together and design, fabricate and race a bespoke car to compete against, there are about 400 universities across the globe who are doing it. So basically, we start off with a basic kind of design specification and a set of rules that are given to you and then you’ve got to try and come up with the best solution to make sure that you’ve got the fastest car, that’s the best performing in acceleration, skid pad, sprint and endurance. and then also the static events at the same time which is design, business and the cost event. It’s a real challenge and it’s something that lasts a whole year As soon as you’ve finished the previous competition you already start thinking about designing the next car. It’s just a brilliant engineering challenge I suppose and really just gives you something to put all that hard work that you, all the things that you’re learning in lectures into something that’s real and that’s really rewarding when you come to competition and you do a great job. Basically this year as a Formula Student team leader I’m running the team, I’m looking after the 110 students that have joined up for Formula Student this year. It’s my job to look after building the car taking it to Silverstone, Germany and also one third competition in Europe. The whole thing hinges on me I suppose really so all the deadlines, all the main kind of aim for the car for the year, is all kind of directed by me so it’s my job to kind of look after everybody and make sure that we get to Silverstone and we do the best job we possibly can. It doesn’t matter what kind of experience you’ve got as long as you’re committed and really interested and you’re willing to put the time in then everybody’s invited, so just, if you’ve got a good interest in cars and you wanna do something a little bit different with your time, then come and find me basically. and get involved. Oxford Brookes Racing has actually got quite a good record within Formula Student. We’re constantly competing with Hertfordshire and Bath as the number one UK team. Hopefully this year we’re going to get it back. In 2012 we were the top UK team we finished 7th overall at Formula Student Silverstone and we first in the skid pad event twice throughout the year so we did a really good job in 2012, fell off it a bit last year, but hopefully now I’m going to lead for 2014 then we can get top UK team back and maybe aim even higher than that. Being team leader strengthens my studies I suppose, because it kind of gives me something that’s not quite so technically based. I’m really interested in having quite a rounded package by the time I go to look for jobs and things like that so I haven’t just got experience in the theoretical side, the maths and physics, that you learn on your degree but also I’ve got experience of managing a team, working with people, making sure that deadlines get met, motivating people things like that, they’re all really important. I’ve been involved in Formula Student since day one, I’ve had the opportunity to drive the car, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the race engineering side of it so learn how to set up a car in different conditions, wet and dry, being the UK it’s always raining. I’ve had the chance to work with different types of powertrains, so our electric powertrain team, and our petrol powertrain. The experience with both of those helped me get my placement with Mercedes which was really good. I’ve also had the chance to learn all the stuff I’ve learnt in lectures, so aerodynamics, suspension and chassis design, and apply that to a practical application, hours after learning it in class rather than years, or decades away. I’m involved in the Formula Student team, I have been since my first year here and for the first four years I worked on the electric vehicle project to produce a fully electric Formula Student racing car which is a small, single seat race car which we take to Silverstone every year to compete against all the best
universities in the world. To go and work in motorsport, there are so many graduates who have got Formula Student on their CV, it’s almost a prerequisite now, you have to have done some Formula Student, to demonstrate you can design something, and work in a team, to get a good job. It’s all about the kind of ethos embedded within the department. We have a very strong Formula Student team which has 150 student members and they really start to work like a real team, like a real motorsport team and we’re in a facility that’s 24/7 So they’ll come in, do their studies, do the assessments and then they’ll start work again almost, on a Formula Student car, and they’ll come in at weekends, and they’ll have that kind of environment which they’ll experience within the industry itself. One of the big successes that we’re very much noted for is Formula Student where we run a very successful racing team. Formula Student challenges students to design and build and actually race a racing car. It’s a very interesting competition, lots of teams around the world have enormous budgets at Brookes, we don’t have an enormous budget, we have a budget, but it’s a much more modest budget, and despite that modesty our students actually perform extremely well and of course that’s the key thing because in motorsport and automotive engineering, how many times will your boss say ‘You’ve got as much money as you want to design’ well it’s never going to happen, so designing to a budget and producing performance is the key, and in that area we excel really above almost all universities. We do extremely well, there’s a lot of learning that goes on there.