Local team geared up for Silverstone

The Ulster University team pictured in last year's car.

The Ulster University team pictured in last year's car.

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A group of undergraduates backed by a Derry engineering firm are hoping to make their mark this week when they travel to Silverstone with their own racing car for the Formula Student competition.

The Ulster University team have received sponsorship from local Maydown-based firm MiM-NI through a partnership developed by Mechanical Engineer Stephen Clarke BEng AMIMechE.

The Ulster University team displaying their sponsorship.

The Ulster University team displaying their sponsorship.

The mechanical and lifting engineering firm will have its name advertised on uniforms, the car and associated materials, while the local team will get the opportunity to represent themselves amidst some of the biggest businesses in the world, including Jaguar, Mercedes AMG, and Porsche.

The Ulster Formula Student Team, consisting of young engineers from the Ulster University, have been tasked with designing, building and racing an F1 based car at the iconic F1 track at Silverstone.

Stephen Clarke has been co-ordinating and overseeing the project as Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate, and will form part of the 16-strong local team who will be in England for a full week from today.

He said: “We will look the part with the uniforms. There is not a lot of funding so it is great to get local support.

“The car has been developed over the two semesters from September to June. That’s from scratch and getting the rule book out, everything is dictated by rules.”

The Mechanical Engineering undergraduates will get the chance to pitch their designs and make industry connections during the competition.

The racing itself will take place at the weekend and it is yet to be decided which of the local team will get behind the wheel.

Formula Student is the largest student motorsport event in the world, organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Over 140 teams from 30 countries will compete for the prestigious honour of being top university.

The competition is held annually at the Silverstone race track, arriving on the day the British F1 finishes.

The Formula Student challenging teams of third level students to design, build and race a small single-seat racing car.

The teams’ performances are judged, not only by their on track performance, but also on their innovative designs, costing and business acumen. Top engineers from motorsport and industry are part of the judging team.

Ulster University attended the Formula Student event against all odds in 2014 and managed to place themselves in a respectful position, passing key milestones such as scrutineering and the brake test.

The team competed in five out of seven events with a notable 35th in the endurance race.

According to the official Silverstone website, Formula Student is the “testing ground for the next generation of world-class engineers”.

The event is backed by industry and high profile engineers such as Patron Ross Brawn OBE.

The competition itself invites universities from across the world to test their skills against others.

The mission is to “excite and encourage young people to take up a career in engineering” and to “challenge university students to conceive, design, build, cost, present and compete as a team with a small single-seat racing car in a series of static and dynamic competitions.”

Mr Clarke said MiM-NI and KTP will be fostering the next generation of engineers by providing a platform for emerging talent to demonstrate capability in engineering and business awareness, to help them as they embark on a career.