Four transition year students from St Gerald’s College, Castlebar, are trying to race to the top in Ireland in the F1 Schools competition. The team of Keith Derrig, Darren Brogen, Micheál Healy, and Niall McCormick are hoping to better the performance of last year’s team from the school who got to the national finals and hopefully take a prize this time around. Under the watchful eye of their teacher John Bones the four students have been hard at work on their project since October.
The popularity of the competition has seen it grow in recent years and make the competition tougher, but Bones hopes that the work put in by the four teenagers will be rewarded with a place in the national finals at least. “Over the last few years this competition has grown very large, they have had to bring in regional qualifiers due to the huge numbers of schools who have entered. But it’s no surprise because this competition teaches the lads a lot more than design, it also involves a lot of research, production, marketing, budgeting, working to tight deadlines, and team work.”
The competition involves the team designing, building, testing, and racing an aerodynamic model of a formula one car. The students also have to raise funding for the project through sponsorship as team communications manager Niall McCormick explained. “We have got sponsorship from a couple of people which has been great and we are very thankful for them, but we are always looking out for more. We also have a few fundraising ideas we are working on at the minute and hope to have that kicking in soon. We have also recently launched a website where you can keep tabs on our progress through the different stages of the competition at www.westcoastracers.ie ”
The competition called for the four team members to be given creation roles and criteria to fulfil as part of the role. Keith Derrig is the team manager for the project and is enjoying the role. “I have to check over to make sure everything is getting done on time, it can take a long time, but I enjoy it.” Darren Brogan has taken up the challenge of design and graphic engineer, and despite the important task of getting everything right on the design side of the project to make sure the car is as aerodynamic as possible, he has relished the challenge. “It’s been good working with the design software here in school, it took a while to get used to it but once I did, it’s been a good experience getting the car design as good as possible.” Micheál Healy is the manufacturing engineer for the project and is responsible for the manufacturing of the car and advising the rest of the team on the manufacturing constraints when it comes to the design of it, while Niall McCormick is responsible for the team marketing and communications.
The team will be competing in the regional finals of the competition in March and hope to progress to the national finals in April this year.