EAST COUNTY — Aly Cote didn’t know her passion for cars would take her across the world.
But the Lakewood Ranch High School freshman returned earlier this month from Abu Dhabi, UAE, with teammates Mario Palmer, a junior at Braden River High School, and Braden River graduate Jeremy Petty, after finishing 13th out of 33 international teams competing in the F1 in Schools World Finals.
F1 in Schools is an international competition for youth, in which groups of three-to-six students must design and manufacture a miniature Formula 1-style racecar out of balsa wood, using computer-aided drafting design tools. Students try to design the fastest car possible, and must also market and promote their racecar team.
The green-and-black, 55-gram, C02-powered, balsa-wood car that Cote and her teammates competed with logged a speed of 1.071 seconds down a 65-foot track, making it the seventh-fastest car in the competition. But students were also graded on verbal presentations about their car, designs and other components.
Dubbed Velox F1, the team had three other members — students Ajanthan Hariharan, Genooshan Indirathas and Owen Chen, of Canada. Both teams had earned second-place finishes at a finals competition in May, earning them a right to take up to three members of their teams to the world finals, in partnership with another team. Three members of Canada’s original team participated in supporting roles, but did compete in Abu Dhabi.
“Our motto was, ‘Two nations. One continent. A vision for victory,’” Palmer said.
Cote said she loved working with another team, despite the logistical challenges it posed.
“You have more experiences, more ideas,” she said. “You come up with a better product, I think.”
Cote served as the team’s resource manager, taking responsibility for the team’s roughly $40,000 budget and resources, while Palmer completed the team’s graphic designs. Petty worked with Indirathas to design the team’s car entry.
The students collaborated on their F1 project using Skype and other Internet-based tools to do video conferencing and planning and to make other preparations. They used Solidworks, a three-dimensional computer-aided drafting design program, to improve the design of their racecar as they prepared for the event in Abu Dhabi, which was held at the world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World on Yas Island, overlooking the Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit.
Palmer said the Manatee County team was better versed in the technology portion of the contest, while the team from Canada helped to facilitate deadlines and handle logistics.
“We learned so much,” Palmer said. “We’ll have a stronger team this year.”
Students said they got ideas for future car designs, as well as for marketing their team at future contests, at the world finals. Additionally, this year’s international competition only furthered the youth’s vision to take home a world title in the years to come.
“I was happy with the overall placement (of our team this year),” Palmer said, noting the experience from this year’s competition. “If we get to go (world finals) next year, we have to place higher. It’s a lot of work to get there.”
The students already are making preparations for next year’s F1 in Schools national competition.
Contact Pam Eubanks at firstname.lastname@example.org.