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Top Gear F1 in Schools Technology Challenge 2015 on Track

Top Gear F1 in Schools Technology Challenge 2015 on Track

Instilling the love of Maths and Science into pupils is the aim of the Top Gear Festival Legacy Initiative’s F1 in Schools Technology Challenge which geared off to another good start during the recent Skills Development Weekend at DUT in preparation for next year’s (2015) competition.

Brettonwood High School, Carter High School, Clifton College, Crawford College La Lucia, Durban Girls College, Eden College, George Campbell Technical School, Grant Leigh, Inkosi Umdibaniso Comprehensive High, Ixopo High School, Meadowlands School of Technology, Protea Secondary Ink, Protec Tongaat, Sivananda Technical School and Umlazi Comtech will all battle it out for top spot in next year’s competition.

The F1 in Schools Technology Challenge is a collaborative initiative between Top Gear, DUT, Sangari SA, The KZN Department of Education and Autodesk. It is an exciting project that is geared towards encouraging high school pupils to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology after high school, fields which are the backbone of an economy. Maths and Science therefore play an integral role for pupils who participate in this competition.

The challenge sees teams of between three and six pupils in grades nine (9), ten (10) and 11, designing and manufacturing miniature versions of the Formula One car of the future. The 21cm long cars will be designed using Computer-Aided Design software (CAD), built from a block of balsa wood and powered by a compressed air cylinder.
At the Skills Development Weekend, schools were trained on how to use the design software during workshops held by the Department of Industrial Engineering at DUT. The Department will also mentor and assist teams with the manufacturing process.

During the competition, the teams will compete against each other to determine the best engineered and fastest miniature car. The groups will be tested on a variety of areas which include marketing, team work, design, car speed, manufacturing, aerodynamics and branding. They will also have to source sponsorship for their projects and will be tested on this as well.

The challenge, now in its 14th year, was introduced to the UK in 2000 and has expanded to over 40 countries, reaching over 20 million pupils around the globe.

Anna Sacks, Top Gear Festival Durban Legacy Initiative Project Manager, said the project is a unique global platform for the promotion of science and technology to a youth market. “We hosted 150 pupils at the skills development weekend. Ranil Singh and Andrew Naicker (Professor) from the Department of Industrial Engineering at DUT held training on the 3D CAD Autodesk software and Top Gear hosted a number of workshops around marketing and commercial sponsorship,” said Sacks.

Grade 10 pupil David Singh from Crawford College La Lucia was excited about attending the workshop. “I’m passionate about cars and Top Gear so when I heard about it (F1 in Schools Technology Challenge) I really wanted to participate. I’m really excited to build the 21cm car out of balsa wood, and most of all, I’m looking forward to designing on the 3D CAD software,” he said.

Giving feedback on the workshop, Professor Naicker said the pupils are enthusiastic about the challenge. “They are catching on quite nicely on the concepts of designing a car and their capacity to work on their own is also very good. I’m looking forward to seeing their designs,” he said, adding that another workshop will be held sometime in January 2015, just to keep abreast of the progress of the teams.

“Good luck to all of the teams competing this year. It is going to be our toughest challenge to date,” said Sacks.

– Waheeda Peters

Pictured: Professor Andrew Naicker from the Department of Industrial Engineering at DUT briefs pupils on the rules and regulations of designing on the 3D CAD software.

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