F1 schools team needs help

Ciaran Harrison, Joe Dudgeon, Stephen Ramsay, Gavin Singleton and Tommy Paget are ready for battle in Austin but more funds are needed for the team. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ciaran Harrison, Joe Dudgeon, Stephen Ramsay, Gavin Singleton and Tommy Paget are ready for battle in Austin but more funds are needed for the team. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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YOUNG engineers from a city school who are to represent Scotland at the F1 in Schools world championships have appealed for funding to help them continue their work.

The Craigroyston High pupils said they were hoping for annual funding of around £20,000 to enable them to build on success in designing and manufacturing a scaled-down F1 car that has qualified for November’s international meet in Austin, Texas.

Although delighted to have progressed to the world championships, they warned lack of support from their country would undermine the project in future years and put them at a competitive disadvantage to schools from other nations which enjoy budgets of hundreds of thousands of pounds funded by governments and major corporations.

Craigroyston design engineer Tommy Paget, 17, said: “We’re trying to do as much as we can with what we’ve got but it’s tough. During production, the computer router which manufactures the car broke down.

“It pretty much exploded and the cost of one of them is between £6000 and £7000 – and that’s just second hand.

“We’re at quite a big disadvantage with the lower funding that we have.”

The F1 in Schools challenge sees youngsters commissioned to design, construct and race the fastest miniature Formula One car of the future – a 21cm-long scale model built from balsa wood and powered by a compressed air cylinder.

Staff and pupils said excelling in the challenge was hugely important to the north Edinburgh secondary, which is based in one of the city’s most deprived areas and has struggled in recent years amid poor exam results.

The Craigroyston team has £1000 from Selex Galileo and £3000 from the city council, while FMC Technologies in Fife is paying for flights to the 2013 championships.

However, the team said it would need more if the full potential of its cutting-edge design work is to be realised and said one team from Germany had access to funds of £250,000 in 2011, financed
by the German government and oil giant Exxon Mobil.
S5 pupil Joe Dudgeon, 16, the team’s business manager, said: “There’s nothing else quite like this in the school – there are other projects but nothing on the scale of this.

“You develop a knowledge of engineering and you get to meet people from around the world, as well making contact with local businesses.”

Craft, design and technology teacher Carrie Anderson, who assisted the youngsters in their work, said: “This is the largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics schools project in the world.

“We can try to do our best in this but without proper funding we are really hampered compared to other countries.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com