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Teens design racing car

Year 10 pupils from Seaford Head school (back row) with University of Sussex students (front row) from the Sussex Racing team, who, each year, design and build a car to race at Silverstone in a global competition

Students from Seaford Head try their hand at Computer Aided Design (CAD) software as part of the University of Sussex's 'Design a Racing Car Day'

Teenagers from two schools in Sussex tried their hand at designing a racing car at the University of Sussex on Friday (11 November 2016). 

The Year 10 pupils from Oriel School in Crawley and from Seaford Head took inspiration from a fully-functioning racing car designed and built from scratch by engineering students at the University. 

The car was raced at Silverstone in July as part of the international Formula Student competition. 

After seeing the car, the youngsters were set a series of tasks to give them a glimpse of the life of a modern engineer, such as using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and creating electrical circuit boards. 

The Design a Racing Car Day was organised by current engineering students at the university who wanted to do something to help increase the diversity of people studying engineering degrees. 

For example, they prioritised schools who could bring a high percentage of girls. This is an important point because, of the 2.56 million job openings in engineering companies between 2012 and 2022, half are forecast to be filled by women. 

It is the third such event organised by the University students in recent weeks. The week before, they hosted Littlehampton Academy and Felpham Community College and before that they visited Burgess Hill Girls School. 

All in all some 120 teenagers have had a taste of how exciting a career in engineering can be. 

Chris Mason in the University’s Widening Participation team works with around 80 partner schools to encourage under-represented groups to consider university or try a subject they might not have considered. He said: “We are delighted to continue our fruitful partnership with the University’s Formula Student team. 

“The team put together an engaging and exciting day for our Year 10s, giving them an insight into mechanical and electrical engineering. 

“Feedback has been excellent and Design A Racing Car Day is a fantastic addition to our portfolio of academic events.” 

Here is what some of the pupils said: 

  • “I learnt what university is and how uni life works and how to be an engineer.”
  • “I learnt about the hard work and effort that goes into putting a racing car together.”
  • “Really enjoyed it. Might take it for A-Levels.” 

Following the team’s visit, Burgess Hill Girls School said: “They gave a great insight into the range of careers that engineering can lead to, from the designing of the chassis to the marketing and funding for the racing team. 

“One of the key messages was how women are really encouraged to enter the realm of engineering.” 

The University’s team for the Formula Student competition is called Sussex Racing and is led by students in its School of Engineering and Informatics. The process of designing and building next summer’s car is already under way.

By: James Hakner
Last updated: Monday, 14 November 2016