F1 in Schools is the largest international STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) competition for schools. It challenges students to create their own Formula 1 team which is commissioned to design, construct and race the fastest miniature Formula 1 car of the future.
Nam Phong Racing consists of 6 highly skilled and innovative International Baccalaureate students who are determined to showcase their talents on a global scale. They are the only team to be representing Vietnam in the World Finals, taking place in September 2018 in Singapore. This places them in the top 0.005% of 20 million students from over 40 different countries who have participated in the competition.
We catch up with our 2018 team; Jonathan Le, Victoria Fethke, Jimin Oh, Trinh Vo and Hong Hanh Pham to find out more about Nam Phong Racing’s journey to the World Finals...
Why did your team decide to participate in this competition?
We decided to participate because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to challenge, develop and showcase our talents in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and enterprise.
What inspired your ‘F1 in Schools’ team name?
Nam Phong means ‘Southern Wind’ in Vietnamese. Wind is the vigorous force of nature and its effortless speed is what our car emulates. Unlike other teams, we wanted to emphasize our identity as the only F1 in Schools team from Vietnam and pay homage to the heritage and culture. Therefore, our logo proudly represents Vietnam through the image of a water buffalo and swift calligraphy strokes. Although our members come from three different countries, we feel a sense of pride and unity in representing the country that we are now based in.
What’s your biggest strength as a team?
Nam Phong Racing consists of 6 members with different characters, which makes our team unique and efficient. Since all of us specialize in different areas of the competition and are passionate about our roles, we are able to bring out the best from each aspect such as engineering, design, and marketing. We are also glad to have members who are willing to invest their time and effort whenever we need, which makes the whole operation process smoother when preparing for promotional events and meeting deadlines.
Describe your team in 3 words...
Innovative, determined, diverse.
Tell us about the design process for your car…
After thorough research on aerodynamics and components of drag, our design engineer Victoria and innovation engineer Trinh identified multiple aspects to experiment on to reduce the drag of our car, such as the extent of airflow below the car, its length and the form of the main body. After gaining experience with the Computer Aided Design (CAD) software Fusion 360 and 4 draft cars later, we had our first refined car design. After further analysis of the drag of this car using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, we identified many areas of improvement. The 7th refined version of this car then sufficed to be our first prototype!
For our second prototype, we investigated strategies of reducing drag further, such as increasing flow below the car. Based on our simulations and tests, we came to the conclusion that it does in fact reduce the drag coefficient in our context. Through our testing strategies, we have identified further developments that will be integrated in the upcoming prototype.
The main philosophy behind our design development is innovation, which benchmarks our slogan “Gust of Innovation”. While our goal is to reduce drag and increase the speed of our car, we aim to engineer this through creative and novel means. The key to doing this is constant experimentation, evaluation and development, which is the priority of our engineers.
Have you experienced any challenges so far?
So far, the biggest challenge we’ve faced was manufacturing the car. It took a while to get accustomed to the Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software and we ran into several unexpected problems with the milling machine. Our engineers spent countless hours after school trying to solve these issues and meanwhile, we discovered an underlying problem with the method that previous teams had used. Now, after this tedious and nerve-wrecking progression, we have developed the expertise to efficiently manufacture the car, while also streamlining this process for teams in the years to come.
This has undoubtedly given us insight to the real world of design, engineering, budgeting and marketing and continues to give our team members an invaluable experience in identifying our passions and shaping us to be collaborative, problem-solving and innovative global citizens.
What’s been the best moment?
Being able to finally race our first prototype down the race track has got to be our best moment thus far. Although one of the wheels flew off, we were thoroughly impressed and actually surprised at the speed of the car! It was so relieving and motivating to realise that all our hard work is starting to pay off. Through this testing, we were able to identify areas of improvement and innovations which we are now developing.
In terms of enterprise, meeting sponsors and negotiating sponsorship deals continues to be a highlight since we, as students, are able to interact with businesses on a professional level.
How have you obtained your sponsorship so far?
We have reached out to different potential sponsors through emails and setting up meetings. We’ve also created a sponsor booklet, listing all the information from the competition itself to the sponsor packages that we offer to provide our sponsors with a clear idea about the competition, our team and the benefits of sponsoring Nam Phong Racing. We’ve used different marketing strategies and offered unique benefits on sponsorship deals that have attracted sponsors world-wide.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to challenge, develop and showcase our talents in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and enterprise.
Do you believe Nam Phong Racing can win the World Finals?
There are a variety of different awards that teams can win based on their performance in different aspects of the competition. With the effort that we’ve put in as a team, we wholeheartedly believe that receiving an award is within our reach, whether it be for design and engineering or enterprise.
What advice would you give students thinking of doing F1 in Schools?
We would like to emphasize that this competition takes more effort and time than one would expect. Since F1 in Schools is relatively new to Vietnam, we face some barriers regarding sponsorship, access to materials, and awareness to generate support of F1 and F1 in Schools. Starting up is also difficult as you need to learn the operation of the design software Fusion 360, create a master plan, compile a sponsor contact list and establish a team identity.
This journey has made us realise that it is crucial to think ahead and be clear about what your team is trying to achieve in order to be efficient when completing tasks. If you are interested, start with learning Fusion 360! But most importantly, don’t be intimidated by the breadth and global competitiveness of this competition and grasp this unique opportunity to strengthen your passion for STEAM/business, learn lifelong skills and shift your way of thinking.
How has F1 in Schools benefited you?
F1 in Schools has given us the opportunity to apply abstract skills and knowledge that we’ve acquired in the classroom to solve real-life problems creatively. This has undoubtedly given us insight to the real world of design, engineering, budgeting and marketing and continues to give our team members an invaluable experience in identifying our passions and shaping us to be collaborative, problem-solving and innovative global citizens.
Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman of F1 in Schools, discusses the opportunities that can arise for the students participating in this year’s event, “The F1 in Schools STEM Challenge has inspired a passion for Engineering in generations of students, with many of our ‘alumni’ moving into careers with Formula 1 teams and companies associated with the sport.”
This sentiment is echoed by BIS alumni Steve Ko. Steve was part of Doppler Racing who participated in the F1 in Schools World Finals in Texas. During the finals, 9 students including Steve were offered the once in a lifetime opportunity of being admitted to the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy. This programme consisted of F1 specific engineering courses for four years, mentored by F1 engineers in the Williams F1 team. The experience of F1 in Schools encouraged Steve to apply for Aerospace Engineering at KAIST University where he is currently studying.
Follow Nam Phong Racing's journey to the World Finals...
We look forward to hearing more from the team on their #RoadtoSingapore!