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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. Their work reflects a wider trend in the car industry, which is seeing a shift towards sustainability. The students are part of Formula Student, a student-run organisation that runs annual racing car tournaments. They harness their technical expertise to design, build and race single-seater cars across a series of events resembling the prestigious Formula One.

Ryan McDermott, a fourth year Aeronautics and Astronautics student, currently leads the 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 cutting edge and state-of-the-art facilities for developing his skills and expertise. “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 with us the impetus to his involvement in Formula Student and how it 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 like Bath, Sheffield, and Oxford Brookes, all of which are highly regarded. However, I chose to study at Southampton because it is one of the world's top engineering universities, particularly in the field of aerodynamics.”

Formula Student has also opened doors to invaluable industry opportunities for Southampton students including 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 shared how her involvement honed her management skills. “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.”

And the Southampton University Formula Student team show no signs of slowing down. They have already set their sights on upcoming international tournaments and a new car design. "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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