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Young engineers gathered at the Circuit to line up their racing car designs on the grid for qualification to prestigious 2017 Bernie Ecclestone F1 in SchoolsTM World Championship Trophy in Singapore

The UAE’s best young racers revved up their engines at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday for a shot at glory in the National Finals of the F1 in Schools™ – The Formula One® STEM Challenge.

Created to engender excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the annual competition challenges students from all over the world to create their own Formula 1® team, which then designs, constructs and races scale model cars.

At Yas Marina Circuit, students from UAE schools met to test their mettle against each other, having set up their own Formula One® teams with a full business plan to design, build and race a miniature racing car.

In a fantastic UAE National Finals, ‘Team 21m/s’ from Our Own High School in Al Warqa'a clocked the fastest time of the day with 1.071 seconds. However, when it comes to overall winners, the judging process combines scores from all elements of the competition: racing, engineering, verbal presentations and team marketing display. This means that Team 21m/s from Our Own High School Al Warqa'a came out winners in the Professional Class, while ‘Team Vortex’ from GEMS Wellington International School were triumphant in the Rookie Class.

The two team champions from today’s UAE National Finals will now fly the flag for the UAE against hundreds of students from schools all over the world at next year’s Bernie Ecclestone F1 in Schools™ World Championship trophy, hosted in Singapore.

“Once again, we’ve been hugely impressed with the quality of the entrants, their enthusiasm for the F1 in Schools Program and their passion for learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the excitement of Formula 1®,” said Abdulla Al Shammari, Community Manager at Yas Marina Circuit.

“Yas Marina Circuit is proud to be supporting the strong spirit of innovation and discovery that is developing in UAE schools. We wish today’s winners every success at the World Championships in Singapore next year.

Today’s action took place on a 20-metre indoor track at Yas Marina Circuit, home of the FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX. Propelled by carbon dioxide cartridges, the small balsa wood cars sped along the straight track at speeds of up to 80km/h. Racing in pairs, the cars typically reached the finish line in just over a second.

Just like real F1® teams, the young engineers had to work within strict design and budgetary constraints to produce cars that are as powerful and aerodynamic as possible. They also marketed their projects, managed a budget, and tied up sponsorship deals.

Judges assessed the quality and performance of the cars and also factors including team uniforms, design portfolios, verbal presentation skills and promotional pit displays.

“I still can’t believe it, it’s really surreal and I can’t stop smiling,” said Nishika Bindru from Rookie Class winners Team Vortex from GEMS Wellington International. “I feel so proud, I just can’t believe we have won, it’s amazing.  We have been working really hard for the past 9 months trying to get everything ready and organised and literally yesterday we were panicked and nervous. Just now when we were waiting for the results my palms were sweating, it feels amazing to have won.”

Siddharth Pradeep from Professional-winning Team 21m/s from Our Own High School Al Warqa'a, added: “I’m so thrilled to be going to Singapore I can hardly talk right now.  We took part last year but we came second to last so this is a huge thing for us.  We have come a long way since last year and have worked day and night to get ready for this. We’ve had a lot of support from the school and teachers. 

“Next we need to get ready for Singapore, we need to put more work in to represent the UAE on the world stage. Last year, the UAE came 6th out of 39 teams at the World Finals so we have to break that record and Team 21m/s wants to break the 1 second barrier.”

F1 in Schools™ is a global multi-disciplinary challenge involving teams of students aged 9 to 19. The F1 in Schools™ World Finals 2016 was held at Austen, Texas last month, and saw Indian High School Dubai’s ‘Knighthawks’ walk off with the Best Engineered Car Award, placing sixth overall in the competition.

The competition aims to engage with schoolchildren and get them excited about the work of an F1 team so that they might go on to consider careers in different areas of the sport, particularly engineering.

By testing their skills in various disciplines, including engineering, marketing, sponsorship, design and technology, the idea is to nurture their personal development, creating tomorrow’s champions, all in a fun, engaging environment.

The F1 in Schools™ programme helps participants develop a variety of skills that can be applied to multiple professions, not just engineering and motorsport.

“As well as being involved in physics, aerodynamics and design, students learn about the marketing side of a business, such as branding, sponsorship, and media exposure. Managing a budget encourages them to think about financial strategy and there’s a strong team-building element, added Mr Al Shammari.

“While the emphasis is on having fun, students are developing skills they can take into their working lives when they do graduate and employ their key learnings to most industries and career paths.”

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