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Engineering students have the right formula for competition

18th May 2018

Engineering students from Northumbria University have built an electric racing car to enter in the national Formula Student competition.

Formula Student (FS) is a multi-university student design competition managed by the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Students are required to demonstrate and prove their creativity and engineering skills through the design, manufacture and financing of a small Formula style race car.

The Northumbria team is made up of Mechanical, Automotive and Electrical Engineering students John Mills, Alex Damms, Louis Matthews, Matt Capon and Nathan Washington and has been named UNIRACER (University of Northumbria Intelligent RAcing Crew of Eminent Reputation). The team is supervised by Dr Ulugbek Azimov, Programme Leader in Automotive Engineering.

To participate in the competition, the vehicles built by the students must comply with the FS’s strict rules and regulations. Teams are tested over different events for which they are awarded points, and the team with the highest cumulative total wins.

There are three ‘static events’ (cost, presentation, design) in which the teams are judged on their design justification, presentation and costing skills; a technical inspection, comprising six tests (safety, chassis, noise, tilt, brake, and tech); and five dynamic events (acceleration, skid pan, autocross, fuel economy, endurance), which test the performance of the car and student drivers on-track.

Dr Azimov said: “Formula Student is a fantastic competition that teaches students so much about the practical application of engineering. The competition provides a platform to learn mechanical and automotive engineering theories and develop new techniques.

“In the majority of institutions, the actual design and build of the FS car was separated out of the academic activity and was the role of volunteers. For Northumbria, however, FS activities have been integrated into automotive engineering curriculum.

“The project provides an opportunity for students to produce concept designs, and develop these into detailed designs and build a physical car prototype. The FS activities also respond to a growing need from industry for university courses to provide experience in applying theoretical understanding to real problems.

“As FS is delivery focused, the students are required to make design decisions and, more importantly, make them work. FS is teaching the students to make sensible decisions and offering a ‘work-like’ experience to team members prior to their graduation.”

There are two entry classes in Formula Student, designed to allow progressive learning:

Class 1 - the main event, where teams compete with the cars they have designed and built. Teams are judged across 6 categories and must pass a rigorous inspection by judges before being allowed to compete for the dynamic events;

Class 2 - a concept class for teams who only have a project and plan for a Class 1 car. It can include any parts or work that has been completed in the project so far. Teams are judged on business presentation, cost and design.

Teams can enter both Class 1 and Class 2 cars, allowing Class 2 to be used for inexperienced students to practice their development in advance of a full Class 1 entry. The Northumbria team will enter Class 2 category first to gain the experience to progress to Class 1 next year.

Although FS activities at Northumbria are linked to specific modules, the project is open to any Northumbria academics and students who are interested and would like to contribute, especially those with skills in electronics, control, body design, aerodynamics and manufacturing.

The team has also received continuous support from technicians within Northumbria’s Department for Mechanical and Construction Engineering, Phil Donnelly, David Sibbald, Sam Hutchinson, Simon Neville and Martin Purvis. 

The UNIRACER team is now looking for sponsors and industrial partners to support the project and allow it to run sustainably in the future. Sponsorship can be in the form of any of the many resources that the team needs to compete, including: financial backing; vehicle parts; manufacturing facilities; track testing facilities; technical support; IT (software, hardware); materials; tools; clothing; printing; and others. To discuss sponsorship, including the benefits for sponsors, please contact Dr Ulugbek Azimov

The Formula Student competition takes place from 11 to 15 July – find out more at

Find out more about studying Mechanical and Automotive Engineering BEng (Hons) at Northumbria here or by coming to one of Northumbria’ s upcoming Open Days on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 June.

See how Northumbria’s car has been designed and tested in the video below:

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