With applications open to join this year’s competition as a volunteer, we caught up with our chair of judges to find out why he continues to enjoy donating his time to the competition.
Do you want to join this year’s Formula Student competition as a volunteer? Read the full description of all opportunities here and submit your application before the end of February 2022 to participate!
What is your history regarding the Formula student, what area of competition(s) have you been in and how long have you been involved?
Neil Anderson (NA): Head of Design since 2003, I think, Judge of Design since 2001. Automotive engineer who has been involved in grassroots motorsports including karting, rally and racing and was a champion of the British Leaders in Speed Racing in 1995 and 1996 in the Special Road Car By my company, which is TVR Griffith. Full disclosure, I was the chief chassis engineer at TVR during those “good” years, dealing with road cars and race cars.
What motivated you to participate in FS?
unavailable: Anything that helps students make things hands-on and think about where their part fits into the broader picture should be great.
What’s the best thing about being involved with FS?
unavailable: I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really wise and wonderful people, from F1 engineering legends and Le Mans like Tony Southgate to the truly talented and enthusiastic students, even us senior judges learning something every year!
What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved in your area?
unavailable: Read some details of the event, for example the rules regarding car safety because the event is not like other motorsports disciplines. The rules are very unique to this event, and some are intentional to make using these cars (student designed and built) awkward on other, wider, faster tracks. Don’t bring too many preconceived ideas/ideologies: Let the students present their case for their design solution as no single design is ‘correct’.
Do you have a funny/touching/interesting story or anecdote about the FS experience that you would like to share?
unavailable: I think in the first year or two I was judging, we got our first entry into Bath. He was, in the words of Tony Southgate at the time, “aesthetically defiant, overweight, and lacking in finesse.” I remember ‘discussing’ this at length with him and Chief Justice Carol Smith (engineer/author and American personality) for several hours along the lines of ‘Yes, it’s heavy, yes it’s hard but they know why and where to lose They finished it on time, did a lot of tests and took Generally taking into account all previous advice posted. As such they should not be punished this year because they understand the shortcomings of the first year and I will make sure to punish them heavily next year if they do it again.”
In the end my opinions prevailed. Bath came back with something more elegant and with the passing of Carol Smith I was asked to take over as design committee chair. The rest, as they say, is history…
What does the future of FS look like and how do you wish to be a part of it?
unavailable: I think FS will grow even more as there is still a need for bright young engineers to overcome the challenges we all face in the current climate (pun intended). Those with properly rounded experience appreciate how they fit into a multidisciplinary team, those who see and accept the bigger picture and those who value anything they design must be made, usually by others, for profit, will always be wanted.
I think the EV side of FS will thrive a lot due to potential performance improvements due to its importance for the future.
I don’t have any in-depth understanding of the electric vehicle but I keep learning from my wise colleagues on the Design Committee and will continue to participate because despite the (unseen) hard work, it’s still fun.