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Gearing up for FI challenge to design gas-powered racing car

                Team Nitro manager Cameron Moss with fellow members Matthew Fox, Jack Bridgett, Declan Magill                    and teacher Mr Matt Roberts

Learners are gearing up to take on the challenge to design a gas-powered racing car, and capture a trophy from F1 magnate Bernie Ecclestone.

They are aiming to reach Silverstone, home of the GB Grand Prix,  in next year’s UK finals of the FI in Schools Challenge, which is backed by the motor racing entrepreneur.

If successful, it would mean a trip overseas to the world contest for the five teenagers, who have named themselves Team Nitro in the after-school project.

FI in Schools Challenge sees learners working on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths - to create a gas-powered car, with learners appointing a team manager and designers, while raising sponsorship to cover costs.

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan design technology teacher Matthew Roberts said: “It’s an exciting challenge which our team of five learners take very seriously and work extremely hard on. The challenge is to design and build a car using computer aided design (CAD) software.

“The car is powered by a CO2 canister and timed over runs along a 20 metre length of track to see who has designed and built the fastest car. The challenge is learner-led and I’m absolutely delighted with the way our learners have worked and the effort they put in, and all after their classes have ended.”

Team Nitro has already collected in a bronze media in their rookie season in the F1 challenge against a host of North Wales schools, when  they came third in the rookie class, with their car setting a best time of 1.4 seconds over the 20 metre-long race track.

Mr Roberts added: “Having had a year’s experience, we are fully intent on winning the regional heat in 2017 and going onto the UK finals, which are held at Silverstone.

“If we win that, then we could be going to the world finals overseas -  this year, for example, they are being held in Singapore.

“We expect that Team Nitro will now move up to the full F1 class and, as a school, we will be entering a couple of rookie teams too.”

The Design and Technology department at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan is fully equipped with innovative computer aided manufacture facilities such as a CNC router, 3D printer and laser cutter along with a wide range of powerful design software, which will enable the school to run future exciting STEM projects.

The learners used computer design programme Solid Works to create the best aero dynamic shape with the least drag, explained team manager Cameron Moss.

“We came up with the name Team Nitro and we were all really pleased with how the car did at Venue Cymru. However, we learnt a lot and will be ready for next year with, what we hope, will be an improved design and overall team package,” said Cameron.

“Everyone in the team knew their roles and we worked really well together. It’s a great challenge and great for people our age to work together.

“As team manager it’s my job to oversee development of the car and make the right decisions to, hopefully lead the team to success.”

Jack Bridgett took on the role of the team’s design engineer and was responsible, along with design manager, Luke Sanderson, 15, for the car’s streamlined finish.

Jack said: “I designed several cars, which we tested in a wind tunnel, before settling on the one we used for the competition.

“I enjoyed the team work and I’m looking forward to doing even better next year. We now have the experience to really push for a winning finish.”

Matthew Fox was Team Nitro’s marketing manager and came up with several sponsors for the team after contacting local firms.

He said: “I e-mailed businesses and managed to come up with three team sponsors, which was pretty good. One of them, Birmingham Garage at Llanrwst, painted three of our cars for us, and Brodwaith of Pentrefoelas provided our team uniform. Both sponsors were fantastic throughout the project, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

Declan Magill took on the role of Team Nitro’s resource manager and says he thoroughly enjoyed everything about the challenge.

He said: “My job was to ensure the team had all the resources they needed when they need it to ensure everything went smoothly.

“Each member of the team knew their role and we worked really well together. Everyone was prepared to listen to suggestions and that was a factor in why we did so well.”

He added: “We are all looking forward to next year, designing a new improved model of car and doing our best to set a record breaking time.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins said: “We encourage our learners to aim high and I am delighted that Team Nitro have set themselves the competitive target of reaching the UK final

“Competing in this challenge takes commitment, hard work and drive, but I can see that all the Team Nitro members have benefitted from the extra skills they have learnt while taking part.”