The Autins Group sponsored a team of Year 10 and 11 students from the WMG Academy for Young Engineers in the 2016 F1 in Schools competition. Having won the regional final in February, Academy Racing went on to compete in the national finals held over two days at Silverstone in April.
Beating off stiff competition from 39 other teams, Academy Racing won the trophies for Fastest Car and Innovation as well as emerging victorious in the knockout competition.
F1 in Schools involves students from over 40 countries competing for the Bernie Ecclestone F1 in Schools World Championship trophy. Entrants use CAD/CAM computer software to design, analyse, manufacture, test and race miniature F1 cars which are powered by a small CO2 cylinder and can reach speeds of 50mph over a 20m track.
Robert Hodge, engineering technician at the academy helped support the students’ entry. He comments: “F1 in Schools is one of the WMG Academy’s enrichment activities and the whole event was a steep learning curve. The team initially focused on basic car design – learning what can be achieved with the CAD/CAM facilities and what ideas worked the best.
The race car may only be balsa model, but the level of technology involved belies its appearance.”
He adds: “As in industry, securing funding was an important part of the project and they were fortunate to attract funding from Autins. There are many expenses associated with the competition and the team would not have been able to enter without this support. It is heartening to see that successful companies such as Autins are willing to invest in the next generation of engineers.”
The event drew on a wide range of technical skills including the use of different software such as SolidWorks which supports the facility of computational fluid dynamics. With additional information from mechanical wind tunnel, this was used to optimise the design for the regional and national finals.
Jim Griffin, CEO of the Autins Group believes that companies have to be proactive in supporting the next generation of engineers. “It’s no use complaining that we can’t find skilled staff if we aren’t prepared to invest in training,” he comments. “It’s important for companies like Autins to connect with education gateways to support new talent.
“The struggle to fill vacancies could hold back the growth of the industry, and it is essential that we all work to identify ways to plug this gap. We were proud to sponsor the WMG Academy’s entry – F1 in Schools is a great platform for students to learn and develop their skills.”
Mr Griffin’s comments are supported by a report released earlier this year by the Automotive Council. The report highlighted that there are around 5,000 job vacancies in the industry due to a shortage of skills.
Based in Warwickshire, the Autins Group develop and manufacture thermal and acoustic insulation materials and components for the automotive industry. In addition to sponsoring the academy, the company has helped with recruitment and has provided sound insulating panels for the engineering hall and public. The company is also the first partner employer to take a student as an apprentice.