Students get Vice-Chancellor into high gear!

Thursday, 13 April 2006

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha caps off a busy week today by indulging in two of his passions - helping University of Adelaide students and cars.

The avid motoring enthusiast will test drive a high-performance race car at the Torrens Parade Ground at 10am which has been developed by University Engineering students for a major competition which also involves Australia's biggest car manufacturers such as Holden, Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi.

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 the leading car manufacturers 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 will drive the car prepared for last year's competition and meet the team currently developing this year's entry. It comes after he, and the University, earlier this week hosted almost 300 university leaders from across the world for the Association of Commonwealth Universities Conference of Executive Heads.

"I do like my motor racing and I'm looking forward to seeing what the car can do," he says. "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 says.

Also driving the car today will be Professor Colin Hansen, Head of the University's School of Mechanical Engineering and Mr Michael Neale, Director of the University's Marketing and Strategic Communications Office.

For more information about where studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide can lead, read about Adelaide graduate Peter van Manen, who heads McLaren Electronic Systems and provides technology for one of the best teams in international motor racing, at:


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