A winning formula – student-built cars heat up the tracks


​St Columban's College, students with one of the two cars they helped build in Years 11 and 12

​YEAR 12 engineering students from St Columban's College in Caboolture took their Formula Student cars for their maiden hot laps as they put their skills and learnings to the test.

Joining 23 other Queensland schools at Lakeside Park, the cars were built at school from scratch with raw materials, as part of achieving a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways.

Tony Green, Industrial Technology and Design teacher at St Columban's College, said it's a two-year course that students can select as they commence their Year 11 studies, with the emphasis on engineering.

“The course is not specifically motor sport orientated, it's all about learning engineering processes," Mr Green said.

“We just choose to build a race car as our pathway to that end goal of learning about engineering." 

“They start the build in Year 11, where they begin to learn how to weld, use a hacksaw, file, read drawings ... once they've become familiar with the basics of engineering, they then start to make the components of the car," Mr Green said.

It's not all about the driving for these young race car enthusiasts​

Mr Green said the College has been offering this opportunity to it's students since 2018, and it's activities like these that help students see relevance to the theory they're learning in the classroom as well as sparking interest in possible future career paths.

“It's probably a more exciting thing to be doing than building a boat trailer. And I think the students' get more engaged with it, particularly when there's the carrot at the end of the course of coming down here to Lakeside Raceway and driving the car around the circuit," Mr Green said.

“There's already some students that have indicated they want to go onto engineering at university. One of the girls is looking to go into the Australia Defence Force. She has a very strong engineering focus and liked getting involved in all the nuts and bolts of the car."

Each student had a go in the driver's seat, as well as all team members being ready to go in the pit crew for refuelling and maintenance.

Year 12 student Liam said the build has taught him to be very accurate with his work.

“It's been a really great experience and it was a lot of fun to be able to drive the finished product."

Specific licenses were required, and the speed of the cars were kept in check by the controlled engines. Mr Green said only minimal approved modifications could be made to the cars outside of the specified design drawings.

Day two of the event involved schools competing in a six-hour reliability challenge, testing endurance, driving consistency and reliability, putting their teamwork, time management and workplace health and safety skills also to the test.

Mr Green said it's a valuable program that allows students to graduate school with qualifications and real-world skills already under their belt. 

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