NUST students qualify for motorsport competition

THE race car assembled by NUST students on display at the Pakistan Maritime Museum.—White Star

KARACHI: Gearing up for Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition, the Formula Student (FS), the Interactive NUST Formula Student Team unveiled its race car for this year at the Pakistan Maritime Museum on Thursday. The student-built car called the NAS15 is set to compete against 135 teams from 28 different countries at the FS competition which will be held at Silverstone, UK, from July 8 to July 12.

The team comprises 25 talented undergraduate engineering students who, over a span of eight months, worked tirelessly to conceive, design and build a race car that would qualify for the annual competition which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The car designed for this year’s competition is far superior to the ones used in the previous three years. Afnan Ahmed, team principal, said that “NAS15 is different from the previous years as we have managed to shed off almost 75kg of weight. It is lighter, and the use of composite material of carbon fibre makes it faster. The highest speed it can attain in 121km/hr but what is really incredible is that it can accelerate from zero to 100km/hr in under four seconds.”

In 2014, the team came 52nd out of 106 teams, and were also declared winners for the “Most Effective Communications Strategy”. According to Shahid Mahmud, Chairman and CEO of Interactive Group of Companies, “this year’s aim is to be among the top 35 teams at the competition.”

The team is broken up into different hierarchies and departments. There is a mechanical and engineering team, one handling the marketing and business side, and then of course the drivers of the NAS15. Each team member plays an integral part in their own capacity.

The team has four drivers at hand who will participate in the competition. Umair Ahmed, one of the drivers, spoke about the gruelling training they must undergo. “We first train in a simulator, and now that the car has been unveiled, we will train with it.” A range of safety measures are in place even in the training stage, with the race car suit, helmet and safety harness essential equipment.

Sama Shazli is among five girls part of the NUST FS team. For her, “race car driving is not just about rash driving. There are certain rules involved as well as safety procedures, especially on the competition level. This is the kind of awareness we are trying to create.”

A “Racing to Learn” campaign was launched that focused on an outreach programme targeting schools and creating awareness about the FS competition and race car driving, as well as to garner support for the participating team.

The campaign’s mascot, Chotu engages a younger audience and videoblogs are also uploaded on their Facebook page to disseminate information about how the NAS15 was built and its various components.

Naming the car NAS15 is a tribute to senior Pakistan Navy official, Captain Nadeem Ahmed Shaheed, who was shot dead in 2013. He was the faculty advisor of Formula NUST Racing and a patron to the team.

The NUST FS team will be hosting roadshows at different venues around the city where the NAS15 will be introduced to the public along with different games and activities. The first show will be held at Port Grand on June 13 and 14, and the second at Dolmen Mall, Clifton on June 16.

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