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University of Bath tops scoring at Formula Student 2020 virtual competition

30 July 2020

Formula Student, which is run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and is now in its 22nd year, challenges students to use their creativity and technical skills to design, build and race single-seater cars in a series of events.

University of Portsmouth, Cardiff University and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay were among those who received awards during the MathWorks Closing Awards Ceremony, which was broadcast to the world on Sunday evening. The team from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology also came away with an award in their debut year.

This year saw the live competition at Silverstone become a completely online event, owing to the worldwide pandemic. “Organising our usual Formula Student competition is a year-round activity from the IMechE staff and the organising committee,” explained Dan Jones, Formula Student Chief Judge. “It was only late March when it became apparent that our usual competition couldn't take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and we decided to host a virtual alternative.”

“The event has been a huge success and has run almost seamlessly, which was far from assured. We have all been massively impressed by both the standard of entries and the versatility of the students in adapting to the new event formats. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the IMechE staff, all of our partners, sponsors, volunteers and competitors that all made the event possible. You should all be very proud of your contribution and what you've achieved.”

With more than 80 teams taking part across the world, including Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh, Norway and the UK, the importance and relevance that the competition has for young engineers remains high. Teams took part in over 400 virtual presentations for the Business, Cost and Manufacturing and Design events and despite the huge scale of the organisation involved, all these took place as planned with a small handful of very minor issues.

The weekend’s traditional Dynamic Events were also taken online for the first time, with Lap-Time Simulations using Multi-Body Dynamics Model and recreations of the courses used at Silverstone. Teams had the opportunity to test their driving abilities in online races using the Assetto Corsa simulation software, which were streamed online for teams and fans to enjoy. Driving was competitive and highly entertaining with different teams winning across the event categories, but the University of Hertfordshire ultimately scored highest after the weekend.

Interest in the FS-AI competition continues to grow, with new entries from University of Essex, UPM Technical University Madrid and Ain Shams University taking part this year in the development of autonomous vehicle systems. While newcomers Ain Shams University secured the award for Virtual Real World AI and University of Edinburgh lead in the ADS Class, it was Oxford Brookes University who secured the lion’s share of awards. Having made great progress since their first outing in 2019, the team took awards in for Simulation Development, DDT Class and Virtual Business Plan Presentation.

Steve Penver, Head of Data and Analytics at Babcock International Group, partners of the FS-AI competition, said: “Babcock is a technology-led business, and we’re delighted to be the first company supporting this event which also shows our commitment to STEM.

“Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 these young engineers have shown real grit and determination as well as real-life engineering skills as they adapt to learning in a new environment. Congratulations to all the teams who took part, especially University of Edinburgh and Oxford Brookes University as the ADS and DDT winners.”

“We are delighted at how everyone involved has adapted to the online format this year” said Lucy Killington, Project Manager for Formula Student. “From the volunteers and judges who donate their time to the student teams from around the world who have participated in virtual presentations and sim racing, the competition continues to provide a platform for young engineers to develop their skills and experience.”

Partners and sponsors of this year’s competition include MathWorks, Babcock, Ansys and Direct Line Group.

For a full list of all winners from this year please visit the Formula Student website.

The Formula Student competition will return in its live format for 2021 and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers looks forward to welcoming new and returning teams next year.


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