F1 in Schools Programme

Basecamp sponsored Team Zenova from Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) for the F1 in Schools Programme. The team members share their experience in this short article.

Designing our car from scratch, extrusion after extrusion and design after design, was quite an arduous but meaningful experience. We were uncertain about how to design- when we first got our hands on the Autodesk software, everything was just a jumble of functions and really just trial and error. We soon managed to get the hang of the designing tools and started to think of the different ways we could incorporate the reasoning and science behind aerodynamics into our design. Through observing and understanding this, we changed and adapted the design accordingly. 

we feel that we have also grown as people. We learnt to be resilient when faced with challenges and to find new solutions to solve them

We then put together our ideas into a concrete design on Autodesk, which allowed us to model exactly what our car would look like, by drawing sketches on planes and extruding them to give the 3D body of our car. We then made sure that our car followed the competition regulations for the specific measurements of the car, as a part of the judging that our car would go through would largely be on whether we could meet them. It would greatly affect how well our car would show during the actual competition, for every regulation broken, penalties in the form of a point system would be dealt out, affecting the final score of our car.

 First draft of car design (on paper)

First draft of car design (on paper)

 Car body and digital design

Car body and digital design

The manufacturing process was no doubt a tough process. We had to learn from scratch the workings of the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine, research on what was the best way to assemble the car and then put it into practice. As it was a hands-on role, the teachers could not provide much assistance and we had to learn by trial and error. The manufacturing process alone took over 2 days. Needless to say, it was a difficult process, full of obstacles. One wrong move and we had to start over again.

 Our car being milled with our school’s CNC machine

Our car being milled with our school’s CNC machine

However, we cannot deny that it was definitely an enriching experience. It allowed us to acquire knowledge on the technical processes and further acquaint ourselves with the manufacturing of a car. This is area of study is outside of our usual school-based curriculum and widened our knowledge of engineering and design, really giving us insight into how designs are brought to life, from mere sketches and planning to something that really does function. 

Besides picking up new skills, we feel that we have also grown as people. We learnt to be resilient when faced with challenges and to find new solutions to solve them. For example, we sent out many emails to seek sponsorship from various companies but we were rejected more often that not, meaning that it was extremely hard for us to obtain the resources we needed to build our car and fund the entire project. For the design aspect, in order to make the ball bearings faster, we managed to obtain the views of a milling company. This allowed our ball bearings to move faster than the others. 

These were the first few steps in our journey to design and build our car, more details regarding the rest of our design and race will be covered in following articles. Stay tuned!