We spoke to Izzy, Emma, and Grace, team members of Edinburgh University Formula Student, a student society which each year designs and builds a Formula One-style racing car to compete at the Formula Student competition at Silverstone racetrack.
Run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the competition is regarded as a kite-mark for real-world engineering experience, and attracts the best student teams from around the world to compete over a series of events. For the past two years running, EUFS have been crowned winners of the artificial intelligence ‘driverless car’ division of the competition.
Izzy Lyseggen (fifth year, MEng Mechanical Engineering)
"I am AI Vehicle Dynamics manager, leading the team responsible for designing and manufacturing the mechanical systems, and integrating the powertrain (which encompasses most of the components that generate a vehicle’s power) and electronics on our driverless electric vehicle. Our work involves all aspects of engineering design including research, ideation, computer aided design (CAD), finite element analysis (FEA), and manufacturing.
This season we have focussed on retrofitting one of our previous internal combustion engine cars by modifying the existing design and incorporating new systems and sensors to transform it into a driverless electric vehicle (EV). We work closely with the Powertrain and Electronics teams to provide them with a solid platform for their hardware.
Since lockdown, our team has become distributed across several countries and continents. However, we’ve been making it work remotely through messaging and weekly calls in Teams. Though we no longer have lab access to do any manufacturing work, there’s still a lot we can do from our computers.
Being involved in EUFS is a significant commitment of time and effort, but it has been endlessly rewarding to apply what I’ve learned in academics to practical engineering problems alongside a team of talented and dedicated engineers. EUFS has taught me more about engineering, communication, project management, and leadership than I could have possibly learned in a lecture hall. I went from a clueless but enthusiastic fresher who had never even driven a car to a subteam manager working on the team’s first driverless EV. I still can’t drive a car though…
I have just wrapped up five years with EUFS and the University, and will be moving on after the 2020 competition. My interests have always leaned towards technology and automation and I will be pursuing this in my upcoming role as a software engineer. I will soon be joining a small team working on a cloud-based data platform for interoperability and automation in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. It’s an open source project — check it out at Speckle.Systems!"
Emma Cheetham (first year, MEng Mechanical Engineering)
"I’m a member of the vehicle dynamics subteam, which focuses on how the car reacts to things such as driver inputs. Currently I’m working on the design of the rear upright along with another member of the team; the rear upright provides a physical mount and links the suspension arms to the wheel assembly.
What I really enjoy about EUFS is that I can learn from the older members of the team and I’ve learnt things that, as a first year, you normally wouldn’t get to learn, such as how to use a piece of analysis software called abaqus, and how to design parts on CAD software, specifically solidworks.
I’d like to continue to get more involved with EUFS and maybe become a subteam leader at some point in the future, with a view of possibly pursuing a career within the motorsport industry."
Grace Johnson (fourth year, MEng Mechanical Engineering)
"I'm currently working remotely for my fourth year Industrial Placement at Renault F1 Team, but prior to moving away from Edinburgh I was responsible for all Sponsorship and Outreach for the EUFS team. This included meeting with companies to discuss sponsorship proposals, and attending outreach events. A particular highlight was a trip to Cologne, Germany to the World Motorsport Expo by invitation from one of our sponsors.
In contrast, my first two years on the team were in more technical roles, first as Chassis Team member and second as Chassis Team Manager. These technical roles were what I enjoyed most during my time on the team, as they allowed me to gain both design and manufacturing experience, as well as important skills such as leadership and teamwork.
Managing time between being a committed member of the team while also completing a degree in Mechanical Engineering has proved to be very challenging at times, but always worth it none the less. Putting the continued effort into a project like this has provided many incredible opportunities to myself and my team mates that we may not have experienced otherwise.
In my final year at university, I plan to stay on the team and hopefully apply some of the skills I have learnt on my placement to certain areas of the team. Looking forward longer term, I aim to use my degree in a Research and Development role, possibly in the automotive industry."