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DUT Engineering Students Mentor Racers Participating In Top Gear’s F1 In Schools Technology Challenge

DUT Engineering Students Mentor Racers Participating In Top Gear’s F1 In Schools Technology Challenge


Media Statement by Alan Khan, Senior Director: Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology

The month of June will see teams from seven Durban high schools, which have been mentored by engineering students from the Durban University of Technology, go head-to-head in the ultimate Formula One car of the future during Top Gear Festival’s Legacy Initiative – the F1 In Schools Technology Challenge.

Four DUT Industrial Engineering students were tasked with supporting teams from Open Air School in Glenwood, Phoenix Technical School, Sivananda Technical School in KwaMashu, as well as Umlazi Comtech with the design and manufacture of miniature versions of the F1 car of the future. The cars are made out of balsa wood and are powered by a compressed CO2 cylinder across a 20-metre track. Other participating schools are Clifton College, George Campbell Technical School and Glenwood Boys High School. Each team is made up of about 5 pupils.

On Saturday (June 8, 2013), a public test of the vehicles was held at the ScienCentre, Gateway, in a mock race. The initiative will be showcased to the public during the Top Gear Festival (15-16 June 2013) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, with the main race set to be held on Thursday next week (June 20, 2013) also at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

“We are really excited that Top Gear approached us for their legacy programme”, said Ranil Singh, Senior Lecturer in the Industrial Engineering Department at DUT.

“The role of our students was to teach them (teams) how to use CAD (computer –aided design) in designing their race cars,CAM (Computer-aided manufacturing) in the manufacturing of workpieces and actual manufacturing of the cars on the CNC Milling Machine. At the end of the day, the project is about exposing pupils to engineering science and technology”, Singh said.

Top Gear Festival’s Legacy Initiative Project Manager, Anna Sacks, said that the challenge was designed specifically to inspire students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way.

“This is a fantastic programme with the potential to educate, empower and inspire. It does take commitment from both parties, but the end result is going to be amazing. We are looking forward to being inspired and educated by these miniature dynamo F1 creations,” said Sacks.

The competition will be multi-disciplinary, with teams set to be judged on car speed, supporting evidence of their design, verbal presentation as well as their marketing display stand at the Festival.

“Each person in the team will be in charge of a different aspect but they have to work as a team because judges will call upon anyone to answer questions about any aspect of their project,” said Singh.

He said DUT is excited to be involved in the Festival, saying it goes to show that the University is embedded in its local context. He added that this is not the first time that DUT is involved in an F1 initiative. He said DUT is the KZN hub for Sangari Institute’s F1 Team in Schools Challenge which is open to all SA based secondary schools and colleges, to design and manufacture compact gas cylinder powered model racing cars. “We spent over R500 000 on equipment including portable race tracks and a CNC milling machine about five years ago,” said Singh.

Tickets for the Top Gear Festival are on sale and range from the Basic Ticket at R250 to R2100 for an Ultimate Package.

Pictures are available on request from Sinegugu Ndlovu.

For more information or comment, kindly contact:

Ranil Singh, Senior Lecturer in the Industrial Engineering Department at DUT on 083 793 8313 or;
Anna Sacks, Top Gear Festival’s Legacy Initiative Project Manager on 076 7900 400

Issued by:
Sinegugu Ndlovu
Communications Manager
Durban University
031 373 2845