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F1 in Schools

Texas High Schools Advance in F1 in Schools Competition

L-R: Axium Racing of Granbury High School, Team NOVA of PSJA Southeast High School and Talon Racing of Granbury High SchoolF1 in Schools, the leading global educational initiative in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ("STEM"), held its Texas Regional competition at Circuit of The Americas on March 23. The worldwide program aims to create a fun and exciting learning environment for students aged 9 to 19 to develop hands-on experience with STEM-focused careers partnered with business skills such as marketing and sponsorship and prepare them to compete against other teams, mirroring the Formula 1 industry.

Teams of 3-6 students design and manufacture a model F1 car using 3D computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing programs and then test the aerodynamics of their design in a Virtual Reality Wind Tunnel using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. After analyzing the design for efficiency and performance, a block of balsa wood is put into a computer numerical controlled router, or CNC. These CNC machines cut the 2-D models into 3-D models for racing. The cars are powered by compressed air in the form of CO2 cartridges in order to race down down the 65' (20m) track in less than 2 seconds. In addition to finding the optimal aerodynamic features, the cars must adhere to specific weight and measurement standards, similar to the rules and regulations that make Formula 1 the sport that it is today.

Saturday's competition was hosted by SAE International and welcomed eight teams from across the state: XLR8 Racing and Axium Racing (Granbury High School); Talon Racing (Akins High School); Los Compadres and The Eclipse (Reagan High School); RED SHIFT (Pflugerville High School), J-Conn (John B. Connally High School); and Team Nova (PSJA Southweat High School). This 2013 Texas Regional Formula One Technology Challenge resulted in three winners qualifying to advance to the US National Championship at the Michigan International Speedway in May: Team Nova (First Place), Axium Racing (Second Place) and Talon Racing (Third Place).

We sat in on a few verbal presentations from the teams and were impressed by the collegiality between students of various ages and backgrounds. Successful team members knew it wasn't just about racing their car down the track; they explained how they stepped outside their assigned roles to help each other in building their team. This proved to be a vital element as teams aren't judged solely on the speed of the car, they're judged on their Portfolio (project management, team work, portfolio clarity and quality), Marketing (team identity, marketing and pit display) and the F1 car design process (ideas, development, testing and evaluation).

However, we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize the thrill of launching the car after the lights go out on track. That's right, just like in F1, five red lights light up one by one above the starting line of the track and when the lights go out, the "Driver's" reaction time is tested to 1/1000th of a second to hit the button and launch the car. The cars have small hooks on their undercarriage with a tether line run underneath it, and this tether line runs down the length of the track. This prevents cars from going airborne off the track. Cars are raced four times and another formula calculates points from the reaction race time and the total race time. Even with all the regulation, it is great fun!

The F1 in Schools program operates in over 40 countries and each National Champion is invited to compete at the World Finals, which will be held in Austin prior to the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix this November. This mirrors the global appeal of Formula 1, and also like F1, the F1 in Schools program is governed by technical documents (US Competition Regulations - 46 pages; US Technical Rules & Regulations - 36 pages), teams are lead by a Team Manager, and sponsorship dollars can make a difference when it comes to marketing the team and the car. After a "day at the track," one can see how this program is a leading example of leveraging STEM subject matter to real world racing and we're looking forward to the World Finals in Austin later this year.

// Check out the F1 in Schools Gallery for more photos!

McLaren "Tooning Up" Their Image

Sometimes I get very envious of the unique coverage that F1 fans overseas are privy to. I've seen the BBC F1 coverage before and it is uninterrupted, non-stop F1 action for a nice chunk of time on race day. It is fantastic. But alas, I'll save that discussion for another day.

Before yesterday's British GP, SKY Sports F1 (which I've also heard pulls out all the stops for F1 coverage) aired a new McLaren animation series, "Tooned." It's a CGI-animated series, in Pixar fashion, that features Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, as well as British actor and comedian Alexander Armstrong.

I'm amused to see Ron Dennis talking so candidly about cartoon characters. Enjoy this behind the scenes look, and the full video also below.

This looks like a great opportunity to reach a whole new demographic: future F1 Fans!

And who can argue with a spot of British humor?

TEDxAustin: Tavo Hellmund Speaks in Austin

Image courtesy of TEDxAustinTavo Hellmund spoke this afternoon in Austin at a satellite event of TED, known as TEDxAustin.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and is a series of global conferences designed to culminate idea-sharing. In his speech, Tavo highlighted several things, not only some interesting things about F1 in Austin, but also his mantra as a person.

He began in a very humble manner, acknowledging the other speakers invited to talk at the event, but Tavo quickly dove into explaining his perspective on the future of Austin and his desire to engage the community.  His vision for the new racing facilities will effect the lives of so many people and in order to succeed, the facility needs to be used year round, capitalizing on the technological and educational potential which Austin culminates.  We think that his message was well received and important to understanding the long term success of his goals.

He highlighted that, not only will this facility bring 300,000 people to the city, create jobs, and attract 500 million viewers in 180 countries around the world, but these are just the F1 weekend numbers and just a the tip of the iceberg of the potential he sees in the overall plan.

Some of the key points Tavo mentioned about the F1 facility itself:

Algae research, like what UT Biology Department conducts.There will be a large focus on the Educational component of the track.  Education has always been a big part of his life, and since the tragic loss of a very good friend of his, Tavo launched his Safe & Sober® campaign to target educational outreach in order to help spread the message of driving safety.

Lance Armstrong in UT's Human Performance Lab, Image Courtesy of UTResearch will be a huge part of this facility and Tavo higlighted two major component of this research: an engineering facility focused on alternative energy research (hopefully partnering with UT Biology Department's research in Algae), as well as research labs in human performance, probably also in close relationship with UT's Human Performance Lab.

Overall, the talk allowed Tavo to really set the stage for the future of not only Formula 1, but the long term success of the region to help ensure true sustainability through a year round calendar at this exciting new facility.

 Here are some of Tavo's unofficial quotes that Kerri tweeted during the speech:  

     "It's going to be an awesome track!"

     "We're going to have the closest thing to a traditional grand prix track, like the ones 30 years ago, here in Austin."

     "I'm hoping this project, which is getting all the attention, gives Austin more than the economic impact."

     "Recognize the power within you and realize how to develop and use it."

     "What drives you? Fear of failure."

     "It's not about how fast a car can go, it's about how fast that PERSON in the car can go."

Tavo Hellmund speaking at TEDxAustin on February 22, 2011. Image copyright The Austin Grand Prix.

     "F1 is the most cutting edge of technology-the advancements in your car were developed in last 35 years from F1."

     "Everyone knows about the splurges of success over central TX" (...becase of relocation of huge companies to Austin).

     "If you build it they will come...will that work?"

     "Kids today are more impressed with the delivery of the message, more by the method; than with the message itself." 

      "We're going to design something to use the other 362 days of the year - including an educational component; we're working with university and elementary school systems..." 

       "What happens after the [F1] weekend? Of course we're going to do other events outside one weekend." 

It was exciting to see Tavo on stage with many other creative minds. It was also great to hear him interact with and update the Austin community on this large and exciting project. We hope this is the beginning of many more public discussions.