Each year, Formula Student sees over 100 university teams design, build and run single seater cars, with events designed to test their vehicle and their engineering.
After being hosted virtually in 2020, Staffordshire University students were determined to enter a car into this year’s competition with one benchmark - to finish every event. Despite lockdown limiting access to workshops on campus and a COVID outbreak within the team earlier this year, they worked round-the-clock to get their vehicle ready.
Alex Rogowski, studying BEng (Hons) Motorsport Engineering, has taken part in the competition since 2019 and this year stepped up to become a team leader. He said: “I came to an Open Day and saw the car that Staffs entered in 2018. As a motorsport engineer it should be everyone’s aspiration to work on a race car so that’s what I went for.
“It really opens your eyes to the wider industry. It’s brilliant, it means we can hopefully be better engineers.”
Run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the annual competition is viewed by the motorsport industry as the gold standard for engineering, combining practical experience with soft skills including business planning and project management.
After making a strong start, disaster struck when another vehicle collided with Staffordshire University’s car. However, teams from other universities rallied round to help them repair the vehicle and get it back on the track within a couple of hours - enabling them to complete the endurance event for the first time in Staffordshire University’s history.
Fellow team leader Carl Allitt, studying BEng (Hons) Motorsport Engineering, explained: “I was watching trackside and I thought that was it, I thought we were out of the competition. We’re just glad that we built the car so robust! She’s pretty big - 312kg and against a car that was just 200 so we came off better.
“When we wheeled the car up to the start line after the accident, the clapping from the rest of the grid and the crowd was something special so thank you to all of them!”
Owing to difficulties accessing workshops, the rules were amended this year to enable vehicles from one and two years of development to compete. Staffordshire University was named winner in the first-year vehicle category and came second in the overall competition. They also picked up the Spirit of Formula Student Award in recognition of their impressive comeback after the collision.
Carl said: “The experience down at Silverstone this week has probably been the best week of my life - the atmosphere with all the teams, the highs and lows and celebrations.
“Winning was something we didn’t really expect. We thought we had a good chance of being up there, but we never thought we’d win. It’s pretty amazing!”
Motorsport Technical Specialist Martin Dunn, who mentored the team throughout the competition, added: “Since winning the 'Breakthrough Award' in 2018 and coming 64th in 2019, we’ve come a long way and the students have worked so hard to do it.
“We’ve got some remarkable students and the drive, the effort they put in, the determination not to fail and to achieve in their chosen career speaks volumes for them. We are extremely proud!”
Discover more about our BEng (Hons) and MEng Automotive and Motorsport degrees or book your place at an Open Day.
Find out if you are eligible for an offer through Clearing by using our offer calculator, have a ‘live chat’ with Clearing experts at http://www.staffs.ac.uk/clearing/ or call our Clearing hotline on 0800 590 830.