Irish F1 team wins global knowledge economy battle

18 Sep 2009

The Koni Kats team from St David’s Secondary School in Greystones, Co Wicklow, took the top honours at the fifth Formula One in Schools Technology Challenge World Championships held this week in London.

At a glittering awards ceremony attended by Lewis Hamilton and VIP guests from the world of Formula One and education, the talented students were presented with the Bernie Ecclestone World Championship Trophy and coveted Automotive and Motorsport Engineering scholarships to City University London.

Thirty-one teams from 20 countries were vying for the champions title. The Koni Kats team, with their design, development, engineering and presentation skills, as well as excellent team work, beat their international rivals and took home the trophy.

The team also captured two other awards en route to their championship title: Best Presentation and Best Engineered Car. The Koni Kats team, comprised of Conor Daly, Eoin O’Connell, Sean Cleary and Adam Gammell, were thrilled to take the victory.

In April 2008, Koni Kats fended off competition from all over Ireland and claimed the title of national champions in the not-for-profit secondary schools technology competition, F1 in Schools, organised by the Irish Computer Society in partnership with Discover Science & Engineering.

“We’ve been working for two years on this, so we are thrilled to have all our efforts recognised with this achievement,” Eoin O’Connell, Team Manager for the Koni Kats, said.

“It’s very special to have won this, we just can’t believe it. I think the work we put into our design and our attention to detail in this, looking at every element from the front wing to the rear fins, has brought us this victory, as well as our strong teamwork.”

Current F1 champion, Lewis Hamilton, presented Koni Kats with the Best Engineered car award, which was supported by his F1 team, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Hamilton praised the Irish team for its high level of engineering, which has set new standards for the F1 in Schools Challenge.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting the students and finding out more about this exciting global initiative. The global popularity and high-tech world of Formula One provides a very exciting and engaging platform for education and it is great to see it being used within schools to enthuse students to study engineering, as well as the other key school subjects.

“I hope F1 in Schools encourages a new generation of students into Formula One and helps to continue to develop the sport as one of the most technologically advanced in the world.”

This unique student challenge is the largest global educational initiative. The students use CAD/CAM software to design, build and test a model compressed air-powered balsa wood F1 car of the future and it takes place in more than 30 countries, with an estimated 14 million school children aware of this engineering challenge.

Teams wishing to experience the thrills of the competition can now register for the 2009/2010 F1 in Schools™ race season at

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Koni Kats team, comprised of students Conor Daly, Eoin O’Connell, Sean Cleary and Adam Gammell, have won the fifth Formula One in Schools Technology Challenge World Championships this week in London.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years