Engineered for the podium
Students get the chance to meet one of their favourite F1 stars and learn some valuable tips from an expert.
BEHIND every Formula One (F1) champion is a team pouring out their hearts and souls behind the scenes to create the perfect car, engine and fuel that will drive speed demons to victory.
Without a doubt, the amount of careful research and development that goes into the design of the car itself is equally, if not more important, than the driver himself.
Fully aware of this fact, 80 lucky engineering students from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and The Otomotif College (TOC) eagerly rode the lift to the 41st floor of the Petronas Twin Towers to meet with Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One driver and champion Nico Rosberg, and Global OEM liaison and Petronas Lubricants International motorsport manager Dr Andrea Dolfi.
These students from the chemical, mechanical, automotive and electrical and electronic engineering fields were given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to listen to Rosberg and Dr Dolfi share their technical and engineering expertise behind the formation of a winning F1 race team.
Not only were they treated to inside information into the development of engine, lubricant and petrol for F1 cars during the informal sharing session, the students were also pitted against each other in a Chemistry competition right after.
Dr Dolfi had five teams of five constructing a model of the most stable hydrocarbon structure from a kit, with the winning team receiving autographed baseball caps from Rosberg.
Rosberg, being the sporting celebrity that he is, also happily spent time snapping pictures and chatting with the students while the competition was going on.
So willing was he to accommodate their photo requests that the emcee had to stop some students from doing so, due to time constraints.
Feeling starstruck at the end of the 90-minute long sharing and interactive event, UTP student Amir Hakim Saipul Yazan, 19, says he wants to be part of “the winning team, the Silver Arrows” in the future.
“If given the chance, I would like to be part of the team involved in engine research and design. Not the driver,” says the student majoring in electrical and electronic engineering student.
Amir Hakim adds that he is fascinated with engines as “they are the most complex component in a car”.
“The engine’s the main ‘player’ and makes a car move,” he says.
This F1 fan was also one of those who took part in Dr Dolfi’s molecule-building challenge.
His team may not have won but they certainly struck gold when Rosberg himself helped them construct their chemical model.
“He attached the finishing piece on our structure,” Amir Hakim says, adding that Rosberg admitted to not particularly liking Chemistry while helping them.
Diploma in automotive technology student Ashik Gaohar, 22, from TOC and his fellow coursemate Aristo Mathivanan, 24, are two of those who won the much coveted autographed caps.
Both of them were happy that Dr Dolfi commended them for their linear hydrocarbon model, which is theoretically the most stable.
To those not in the know, a straight “chain” is more stable than a crooked or “bent” hydrocarbon chain.
Ashik says he found Rosberg’s explanation on how a petroleum company such as Petronas worked so closely with the car manufacturer Mercedes AMG to come up with the technology behind the race car impressive.
Aristo, who hails from India, says, if dreams come true, he wants to be involved in the technical aspect of an F1’s car design in the future.
Another huge Rosberg fan from UTP, Saiful Mohammad Saifullah Mohd Salman, 20, found it “so cool” to meet his idol for the first time.
“I would say the best thing Nico said throughout the forum was their cars being 8/10 of a lap faster than the other teams,” he says, adding that this made him proud to be Malaysian and being from UTP.
“Nico said this was a very impressive feat achieved by his team,” he says.
Also wanting to enter the high octane world of F1, the electrical and electronic engineering student says he could contribute to the development of the race car’s electronic system.
Foundation in chemical engineering student Florence Lee May Huey, 19, from UTP says she isn’t a fan of the sport but came to the event to discover more on the chemistry element that contributes to winning a race.
“I found myself engrossed in the talk and was a bit inspired by what both of them had to say,” she says, adding that she always associated F1 to just fast cars trying to win a race.
Throughout the session, Rosberg also explains how he, as a driver, gave input into improving the car’s performance.
One thing he notes with the new car was how the new technology has made the car more silent than the previous ones.
“They’re much quieter now and that’s really a pity because F1 is noise.
“It’s the atmosphere with screaming engines,” he complains, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Rosberg got more laughs from the audience when he admitted to taking a lot of risks speaking to a room full of engineering students on the technical aspects of the race car.
“The F1 track is the toughest laboratory in the world for us as engineers,” says Dr Dolfi while speaking on some of the challenges faced on the race tracks.
Advocating doing well in school, Rosberg advises students to study well as any knowledge gained is useful.
“For me, even in my race car, the Mathematics and Physics I learnt in school helps me every single day,” he says.
Rosberg explains that in order to get the most out of his race car, he applies the concepts learnt in the classroom as it does affect his performance on the circuit.
He also advises them to remain focused on their goals and try not to be easily distracted with “rubbish” such as social media.
However, he admits sheepishly, it’s “rubbish” that he also finds himself drawn to.
Sometimes, Rosberg says, he finds himself unnecessarily checking his Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp accounts.
“None of us do a good job with that (weaning off social media) but some people do better than others,” he adds.
Referring to this sharing session with the students, Rosberg says, “I enjoyed it because I can see that they are interested in the things I can tell them about our (team’s) technology.”
“I don’t often get the chance to talk about our (team’s) technology,” he continues, adding that “it’s a nice change because normally I get asked how it feels to drive fast.”
Article source : The Star Online