VC feels students' need for speed
A team of University of Adelaide engineering students have put Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha firmly in the fast lane!
Professor McWha, an avid motoring enthusiast, drove a high-performance race car developed by the students for a major international competition at the Torrens Parade Ground.
The Formula SAE (Society for Automotive Engineers) competition sees teams of university students from around Australia and overseas designing and building a formula-style race car to compete in a series of performance and reliability tests (which this year will be held in Werribee, Victoria from December 14-17).
Senior engineers from Australia's leading car manufacturers such as Holden, Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi judge the cars, and the competition also serves as a good opportunity for the manufacturers to recruit talented young engineering graduates.
This year's team consists of 21 students from the disciplines of Mechanical, Automotive, and Mechatronic Engineering who undertake the project as part of their final-year Honours course. The team also features a number of female students, including Formula Ford driver and Mechatronic Engineering student Samantha Reid, and Mechanical Engineering student Catherine Tanner.
Professor McWha drove the car prepared for last year's competition, and met the team currently developing this year's entry.
"I had a great time - the car was fantastic to drive," he said.
"I'm very impressed with both the concept of this competition and how our students perform in it.
"I know that the students treat it exactly the same way as running a business - they have to do everything themselves, so as well as designing and building the car they have to prepare a budget, seek funding and sponsorship and other such things to ensure they are successful both on and off the racetrack.
"It gives them an invaluable insight into what life will be like after university, and the feedback we get from the automotive industry is that the competition gives our students the skills the industry is looking for in potential employees."
Managing director of this year's project and Mechanical Engineering student Andrew Craig says the team welcomes sponsorship enquiries.
"Designing and building a race car from scratch isn't easy or cheap, and we'd be happy to hear from anyone who thinks they could help us financially," he said.
Story by Ben Osborne