Sheffield Students Reach Team Milestone to Compete at Shell Eco Marathon for First Time
As many students started to wind down after exams earlier this summer, members of the Sheffield Eco Motorsports team were busy turning up the dial as they made their final preparations for the international Shell Eco Marathon – a competition that challenges students to design, build and test energy-efficient vehicles.
2019 marked the first year that the 20 strong Sheffield team made it through to competition weekend, having passed through several qualifying stages to reach the annual European finals in Surrey from 2nd to 5th July.
“This year was the first time our team was able to get to the European competition weekend and so the entire experience was really exciting,” explains Eldar Rahimov, PhD advisor to the team and former undergraduate member.
“I first joined the team three years ago as a mechanical engineering undergraduate and I‘ve been involved in the car build right from its initial moulds. Having the opportunity to see the final car and go to the team's first ever competition has been a great experience. It’s a great milestone for the entire team.”
Shell Eco Marathon is an international competition that inspires students to work collaboratively and put theories of energy-efficiency to the test, using cutting-edge technology, critical thinking, and innovative ideas to build and then test energy efficient vehicle designs.
Teams are encouraged to push the boundaries of what is technically possible to see how far their design can go on the least amount of fuel. For the European finals, teams came from across the UK and beyond, including entries from Norway, Bulgaria and Italy.
The Sheffield team was first established in 2015 and involves students from across the Faculty of Engineering, this year including undergraduates from mechanical engineering, automated and control systems engineering, electronic and electrical engineering, general engineering, aerospace engineering and materials science.
Each member takes part in the student led activity as an extra-curricular interest, dedicating their own time to pull the car designs and manufacturing together, with many members taking on leadership roles and using the opportunity to develop their own engineering and team-working skills.
This year, they’ve been supported by Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce from the Department of Mechanical Engineering as their academic supervisor, as well as industrial sponsors Easy Composites, Carbon NV and SolidWorks.
Although the competition weekend had its challenges – the vehicle didn’t make it to the final race track for official ranking due to a last minute motor controller failure – the team still considered it a win after seeing the car driven for the first time on a test track and passing a gruelling safety inspection, all boding well for next year.
The team’s tenacity and approach to learning was also acknowledged by the judging pane, with Sheffield achieving an honourable mention in the ‘Perseverance & Spirit of the Event’ off track prize category.
Jack Willis, a mechanical engineering student who led the Vehicle Dynamics sub-team for the 2019 competition entry adds:
“Being able to go through the entire engineering process, from conceptualisation, design, simulation, manufacture/machining and final assembly, to seeing the car move under its own power on track for the first time in the team’s history was incredibly rewarding.
“The competition really brought the team together and we tackled every mechanical issue that arose during the week, celebrating after with a BBQ with all the other teams at the campsite. Having identified key areas that need improving, we’re determined to post a competitive score next year.”
Look out Shell Eco Marathon 2020!
The Sheffield Eco Motorsports team is open to all undergraduate engineering students, from first to final year. If you are interested in joining the team for 2020, recruitment starts at the beginning of the academic year so please follow the team’s social media for more on the application process and look out for information emails too.