Guest Blog by Ben Noonan, Team Hydron - 2022 F1 in Schools World Champions
"It’s a surreal feeling to be standing on top of a podium halfway around the world as a room filled with hundreds of people stand up for your national anthem. From live attendance to online livestream, thousands of people watch as David Croft shakes your hand and crowns you the F1 in Schools World Champions."
The F1 in Schools competition is the globe’s most competitive youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) event. Students are challenged to design, test and manufacture a miniature Formula 1 style race car using industry-level technologies. The vehicles, propelled by CO2 canisters, accelerate to speeds topping 80km/h in less than a second.
The 2022 World Finals were held at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom – the birthplace of Formula 1. It was run as a hybrid event, where teams could choose to attend in person or compete online. We were up against 53 teams from 25 countries, being the only Australian competitors to attend in person. Named Hydron, we were the Australian National Champions, having competed in six State and National competitions up to the point of Worlds. With years of experience under our belts, and industry leading companies supporting us, we went into the competition heads up and with confidence.
LEAP Australia has been a major supporter of our journey, coming onboard in 2019 and being a major backbone of our engineering development. Providing our team with Ansys and KeyShot software suites, our team was able to elevate our engineering process, leveraging industry-leading software to develop a vehicle that would win the Best Engineered and Fastest Car awards at the World Finals.
Small Car – Big Tech
Aerodynamics - Ansys CFD:
Aerodynamics play a key role in the engineering of an F1 in Schools vehicle, as drag is a significant variable in determining a car’s performance on the track. For this reason, a great deal of time was spent streamlining and refining components through the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. Without an accurate and consistent CFD software, this process would be unreliable as we would be unable to trust the results when making small design changes or tweaks to our aerodynamic setup. This led us to Ansys software and their local channel partner, LEAP Australia, who provided the team with extremely precise and consistent CFD software to help refine the aerodynamics of our car, plus training and mentoring in how to make the most of the software for our specific application. With better solvers and more control than any other program we have used, Ansys Fluent allowed us to drastically improve our engineering and aerodynamic testing processes. For instance, Ansys Fluent allowed us to view multiple analysis techniques simultaneously, which led to a greater understanding of specific aerodynamic areas.
The experience of using Ansys for our team was intuitive, with a plethora of analysis tools available. Beginning with setup, Ansys Discovery (Spaceclaim) offered precise control of surface creation and our virtual wind tunnel dimensions. Ansys Discovery allowed for simple and efficient setup of parameters and mesh changes. We appreciated the ability to customise boundary conditions on individual faces, allowing for precise control of airflow, symmetry conditions and include the effect of rotating wheels. We also found the mesh fidelity control useful, allowing us to prepare either rapid or high-fidelity simulations.
Finally, solving the simulation using Ansys Fluent, post-processing tools such as Isosurfaces, Contours and velocity vectors were used extensively by our team to analyse airflow, along with selections of calculated values to determine drag and lift on specific areas of the car. Ansys Fluent stood out from other CFD programs we’ve used in the past in its ability to also calculate important aerodynamic parameters, such as the centre of pressure. This aided in the more advanced aerodynamic development of our car, allowing refinements in not only drag, but aerodynamic stability.
3D Rendering - KeyShot:
KeyShot was an invaluable tool in the later stages of our design process; integrating engineering with the marketing side of our team by allowing us to mock up graphics and sponsor placements. The photorealistic outputs allowed our team to utilise rendering in marketing areas, providing another element of return on investment for our sponsors.
The straightforward, but powerful workflow of KeyShot allowed for a quick transition from our previous rendering software. We particularly appreciated the simplicity of the drag and drop material application, combined with the powerful capability of the material graph, allowing for intricate control in the appearance of every small detail of our design.
Here are some of our renders created using KeyShot:
Becoming the World Champions has led to great opportunities, such as media coverage and scholarships to University College London. However, while these are invaluable, our team is ultimately most grateful for the learning experiences along the way, especially the people and organisations that made it all possible. Without LEAP Australia’s generous support through the years, we would not be where we are today!