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Southampton students go supersonic with BLOODHOUND@University

Published: 
10 March 2009

Students at the University of Southampton will soon be learning how to build a supersonic car as part of a national project to break the world land speed record by achieving speeds of 1,000mph.

The car in question is the remarkable-looking BLOODHOUND SSC, a 42ft carbon-composite ground-based missile, powered by the jet engine usually found in the Eurofighter Typhoon and a hybrid rocket. Together, they should propel BLOODHOUND to 1,000mph — that’s Mach 1.3 — eclipsing the record of 763mph.

Wednesday 11 March sees the launch of the BLOODHOUND@University initiative by Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, with a three-way webcast between the collaborating universities, the University of the West of England Bristol (UWE), Swansea University and the University of Southampton.

BLOODHOUND@University will provide undergraduate students with a deep insight into the design challenges faced by the BLOODHOUND engineering team, and how they are overcome. Test data and engineering models will be made available, to provide a tremendous resource for lecturers and students alike. This will be made available through a higher education web portal at www.BLOODHOUNDSSC.com

As part of this, the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton is leading a government-backed BLOODHOUND@University Special Interest Group (SIG) to bring together universities across the UK around the BLOODHOUND supersonic car project.

Commenting on Bloodhound@University initiative, Lord Drayson said: “This web resource offers huge potential for both students and universities to get involved in this exciting project. It offers a great educational resource and a unique real-life project for engineering students to get to grips with.

“Unlike most cutting-edge engineering science projects with industry, where there is secrecy around detailed technical information – the data about Bloodhound is available to all. Few if any students would have the opportunity to work on a supersonic car as part of their university curriculum, but what better way to inspire young engineers?”

Dr Kenji Takeda, senior lecturer in aeronautics at the University of Southampton, explains: “BLOODHOUND SSC is already electrifying young people across the world as a truly amazing engineering adventure. We now have the opportunity to bring this excitement into the lecture theatre, and inspire tomorrow's science and technology leaders. It's vital that the UK maintains its position as one the world's most innovative nations in the 21st century knowledge economy.”

Southampton has produced some of the world’s highest-flying engineers, such as Colin Smith, chief engineer of Rolls Royce PLC; Stephen Payne, designer of the Queen Mary 2 transatlantic liner; and Adrian Newey, arguably the world's most successful Formula One car designer. As one of the UK's top three engineering universities, it continues to educate some of the brightest talents coming out of schools and colleges.

Dr Takeda adds: “BLOODHOUND@University is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to provide unprecedented access to a cutting-edge engineering project while it is being developed. This detailed information is normally impossible to get hold for teaching. This provides a great focus for all universities to work together to create innovative experiences for transforming engineering education.”

An online game that challenges youngsters to design their own supersonic car has been developed by the Southampton team. Decisions about jet engine, rocket and parachute designs must be made to see if their car can break the land speed record safely. This game is now available at: http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/videogame.cfm and will include supporting material for teachers.

Experts at the University of Southampton are also building a supersonic car simulator to provide youngsters with an immersive experience to feel what it is like to drive BLOODHOUND SSC at 1,000 miles per hour. Based on flight simulation technology that has been developed at the University over the past decade, this aims to recreate the car cockpit experience as closely as possible. The simulator will be taken to events across the UK from this summer.

Notes for editors

1. BLOODHOUND SSC is an Engineering Adventure, offering the opportunity to engage in an iconic, cutting-edge engineering challenge. This ground-breaking experience will enable young people to recognise the excitement and the importance of science, technology and mathematics inside and outside of the classroom. The BLOODHOUND Project is aiming to take the world land speed record up to 1,000mph (1,600kmph). Visit www.BLOODHOUNDSSC.com to find out how to be part of the adventure.

2. BLOODHOUND@University is run by a group of academics from the University of the West of England, (UWE), Swansea University, University of Southampton and also has input from the EPSRC.

3. The BLOODHOUND@University Special Interest Group is funded by the Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre and led by the University of Southampton. It aims to make technical data open for educational use; create and disseminate curriculum and resources around the world’s fastest car and; run activities and competitions for University students around BLOODHOUND SSC.

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