Schools get geared up for F1 tech challenge

13 Feb 2008

The regional finals of the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge is fast approaching and the heat is on as the 150 teams representing 110 schools from 22 counties around Ireland finish building their lean, mean F1 machines.

The F1 challenge, which is sponsored by Honda and run by the Irish Computer Society, is an initiative aiming to cultivate an interest in technology amongst secondary school students by challenging them to design their own CO2-powered balsa wood car with CAD (computer aided design), which they then build and ultimately race against fellow competitors.

The competition is only in its second year but has proved an enormous success with over 600 students taking part. It has gained the approval of both Mary Hanafin TD, the Minister for Education and Science, and the Technology Subjects Support Service.

“The Irish Computer Society is delighted to see the F1 in Schools competition grow so quickly,” said Jim Friars, CEO of the Irish Computer Society.

“We are encouraged that schools appreciate the benefits of participating in the multi-disciplinary challenge, not just with regard to promoting technology subjects but also its wider educational value.”

The regional finals for the east will be taking place on 26 and 27 February at the Institute of Technology in Dublin, for the south on 6 and 7 March at the Institute of Technology in Cork, and the north-western finals will take place on 11 March at the Institute of Technology in Sligo.

“The Honda Formula 1 in Schools Challenge is a fantastic initiative to help develop engineering-related skills in secondary schools across the country. We are delighted to be part of such a dynamic project,” said Peter Brabazon, programme director at Discover Science & Engineering.

The overall winning team will travel to the Honda Racing F1 Team’s operations centre in Brackley, UK and then go on to represent Ireland at the World Finals in spring 2009.

This March, the 2007 winners, Gear Force from St. Ailbe’s School in Tipperary, will be heading to the World Finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they will compete against teams from 28 other countries for the ultimate prize: the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy.

By Marie Boran