Last week, we waved our eldest son off to the F1 in Schools World Finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is the Design Engineer and youngest member of a team of 4, Academy Racing, from WMG Academy for Young Engineers. It has been amazing for us - and for him - that on his arrival at the Academy a year ago, he was snapped up by the F1 in Schools team, and has had the privilege of this amazing adventure in real-life project-based learning, which has been perfect for his style of learning, and the mentoring of Mr Hodge, a retired engineer who voluntarily gives his time at The Academy to mentor these young people. Like stars aligning, the team has been a magic combination. They won the National F1 in Schools final at Silverstone in the spring, and have been preparing ever since to go and represent the UK as National Champions at the world finals in Kuala Lumpur this week.
The team have been working so hard in preparation for this. They worked through the summer holidays, late into the evenings and at weekends. Not only did they have to prepare everything for the competition, they also had to raise over £12,000 in sponsorship to get themselves there with all their gear. There has been a LOT of work to do. The competition is not just about the engineering; points are awarded for marketing, portfolios, pit display, team image, verbal presentation ... See the full list that follows:
Specifications change for each competition, so the car which won the National Finals could not be used at the Worlds, but had to be totally re-designed to fit the new criteria, which are very strict. Scrutineering is intense, and teams can lose points - and even be disaqualified at the competition - for breaking regulations. The team have had the opportunity to work with local businesses and engineering firms in their preparations for the competition, drawing on the latest research and developments from our local Universities. Our son has thrived on this project, and become a proficient user of CAD and Solidworks. The level of work these teams are producing is quite exceptional. And the whole competition which has brought together teams from all around the world demonstrates such diversity, and hopeful optimism.
As the Design Engineer for his team, our son's focus has been on the car, the design of the car, the specifications for the car (pages he has had to pore over to ensure he is working to regulations), the SPEED of the car .... He has said all along that he wanted the fastest car, the fastest car. And with his usual, single-minded focus and determination, he has applied himself to the task of designing the fastest car in the world.
What a brilliant achievement!
The team were also nominated for Innovative Thinking and placed 10th in the world overall, which is fantastic. They came 3rd in the knockout racing.
Yesterday, I met with the Principal at the Academy to talk about how we face the challenge of bringing him down from the high he will return on, and back to the mundane of the school day. And about the need to focus his single-minded attention on the GCSE exams he has opted to sit in approximately 8 months time. It could prove interesting .... But what a phenomenal experience to have had!