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The University of Southampton

Southampton University Formula Student Team (SUFST) design their first ever Electric Vehicle

Published: 10 June 2022
University Formula Students team

A group of Southampton students have designed their first ever electric vehicle mirroring exciting changes in the car industry, aiming for sustainable energy sources. The students are part of Formula Student a student-run organisation focused on motorsport. Students work collaboratively using their technical expertise to design, build and race single-seater cars across a series of events akin to Formula One.

Ryan McDermott, a fourth year Aeronautics and Astronautics student, currently leads Southampton University Formula Student Team (SUFST) and he told us, “usually we design and build our new cars within one year. As shifting to electric was such a big challenge, we decided to use an extra year designing our new car to make sure our first EV was the best it could be.”

McDermott credits Southampton’s facilities for developing his fellow students’ expertise and technical knowledge in this innovative field. “At Southampton we have access to a wealth of machines and manufacturing centres. So, I've spent hours in labs making parts for the car, which is a skill I wouldn't get anywhere else. We've been able to use the RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel numerous times, which has been invaluable as it has helped in analysing tests and planning.”

He also shared the impetus to his involvement in Formula Student and how it ultimately factored into his choice to study at Southampton. “I was always interested in joining Formula Student because I’d always been interested in motor sport, so it made sense to get involved.” He added: “every Formula One team has a Southampton graduate, so the university is viewed very positively by F1 teams.”

“You've got teams from universities such as Bath, Sheffield and Oxford Brookes, which are all very highly regarded. But for me what I chose to study at Southampton as it is one of the best engineering universities in the world, especially in the aerodynamics field.”

Formula Student has also opened doors to invaluable industry opportunities for Southampton students with with work placements at prominent companies. “Between my second and third year, I did a placement year at a company called Eaton, which focuses on aerospace fuel systems. We also have alumni who are in Formula One, who are always there to provide advice and support to current students.”

Female team member, Jess Flint, a 2nd year BEng Aeronautics and Astronautics student, also told us about how her involvement Formula Student “Throughout my three years with the team I have been a member of the Chassis department, and recently became head of the Chassis department this year. Through working with Formula Student, I have developed my knowledge in engineering and management, which has lead me to be elected as team lead for the next academic year.”

The Southampton University Formula Student team show no signs of slowing down as they already set their sights on upcoming international tournaments and new car ideations. "This year we are competing in the UK and Croatia at FSUK and FS Alpe Adria respectively and are looking to build off of our success from last summer. We are planning to launch our new car, STAG 8 on the 16th of June at the University of Southampton Design Show."

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