Boys' School Visit Faculty of Engineering

July 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

As part of their study into the physics of aerodynamics, our Year 8 students had an amazing opportunity to visit the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Auckland; more specifically, they were hosted at the workshop of the Formula SAE Team.

The FSAE team comprises a group of 41 undergraduates studying for a Bachelor of Engineering who in their own time come together to conceive, design and manufacture small formula-style racing cars. The cars are built through team effort over the period of a year, with the older, more experienced students mentoring the younger ones. The cars go through a design, manufacture, test and adjustment phase before they are taken to the annual FSAE competition for judging and comparison with vehicles from colleges and universities throughout the world. The restrictions on the car frame and engine are limited so that the knowledge, creativity, and imagination of the students developing their own models are constantly challenged. The cars are all built from scratch.

Whilst the cost is partly offset by the university, the biggest input comes from sponsorship, largely in the form of goods in kind. Alongside practical engineering, the team also works hard at sponsor relationships, publicity, media and event management.

Remarkably, this is a student led initiative without any input from lecturers and does not count towards their degree, yet the students acknowledge that the design, practical engineering and business skills they learn give them a definite advantage when they move on from university into the job market – the experience and industry networking sets them apart.

Our own boys were kept captivated by the two student presenters, Matthew Greenslade and Isaac Grigor who, at just 21 and 19 respectively, were incredibly knowledgeable and informative. In the simplest terms, they said that ‘the basic goal of a race car is to get around the track in the shortest possible time.’ The ability to achieve that goal is dependent on a number of factors from the reliability of the vehicle to the handling by the driver, taking in performance on the straight and in the corners. It is the ability to corner well that has the most impact on overall performance in Formula SAE. Our boys learnt about the importance of tyre traction and that to increase the normal force without making the car heavier involves improving the aerodynamics.

As well as seeing cars that the team has developed in the past, they also saw elements of the manufacturing process underway for this year’s model, including composite moulding and machine shop welding.

This was a fantastic opportunity for our boys to see how science is drawn from many disciplines and to understand where their studies could take them. Our sincere thanks to Matthew and Isaac for taking the time to make this possible for our boys.

For more information about The University of Auckland Formula SAE Team please visit or

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