A FORMER student of James Gillespie’s in Edinburgh is working with a team of current pupils from the high school in a bid for racing glory.
Six pupils are in the final stages of preparation for the Scotland Regional Final of the F1 in Schools challenge being held on February 21 at Linlithgow Academy. Their team, Impulsa, will be competing for a place at the UK National Final at Aerospace Bristol in April.
F1 in Schools is an international not-for-profit programme designed to help change perceptions of science, technology, engineering and maths. Teams use CAD/CAM software to design, manufacture, test and then race a miniature racing car made from Formula 1 model block.
The cars are powered by compressed air, with Impulsa getting expert support on this front from Nicol Low, chief operating officer of Vert Technologies.
A graduate of James Gillespie’s, Nicol has an MSc in Motorsport Engineering and Management from Cranfield University along with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh. Nicol manages the production team behind Vert’s patented Conical Rotary Compressor (CRC) technology, one of the most significant innovations in the compressed air industry of the last four decades.
“It’s been great working with the Impulsa team, and seeing the enthusiasm they have in tackling this challenge,” he said. “The world of F1 engineering and James Gillespie’s High School are both close to my heart, and of course Vert as a company is very supportive of budding engineers, so we’ve all been delighted to help out with the project.”
Andrew Digance, a teacher of Engineering Science the department of design and technology at James Gillespie’s school, said: “Since the Engineering Science course was first introduced at James Gillespie’s in June 2016, its popularity has gone from one National 5 class to now teaching four. Myself and fellow teacher, Dr Esme Anderson, have been incredibly impressed with all teams commitment towards the F1 competition. The engagement from team sponsors companies has been fantastic too.”
Established in 2003, F1 in Schools is one of the largest STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) programmes in the world. Each year, teams from more than 17,000 schools in 44 nations take part in the design and manufacture of a miniature F1 car capable of going from 0-80km an hour in less than one second.
In addition to learning about physics, aerodynamics, design and manufacturing, students also develop branding, sponsorship, marketing, financial, teamwork and media skills. Rather than using personal funds or money from their school, they must raise sponsorship and manage budgets to fund their research, travel and accommodation.
Top finishers at national level then go on to the world finals, which were held last year alongside the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. More than 500 students, teachers, parents, sponsors and supporters travelled from around the world to attend the event.
Founded in Edinburgh in 2013 to develop its CRC technology, Vert now employs 14 people at its design centre on the southern edge of the city. It has won multiple awards since producing its first working prototype in 2014, with commercial sales now gearing up under chief executive Phil Harris, who joined the company last year.