Standing on a stage in a foreign country amid hundreds of people that neither speak your language nor share your ideologies is a tough task, to say the least. Nonetheless, Ain Shams University’s (ASU) racing team did not only face this challenge with nerves of steel, but they also managed to break a stereotype and prove their excellence.
After celebrating a major milestone last year, ASU racing team has raised the bar this time by acquiring the first place in class two of the Business Presentation competition at the Formula Student (FS) 2016 competition.
FS is an international competition that aims to encourage young engineers into innovatively designing and building race cars. Each year, thousands of students from faculties of mechanical engineering worldwide apply.
The race car designed by the Egyptian team ranked fourth of class 2 of the competition─a first-timer for ASU.
Although the team mainly consists of freshmen and sophomores, they have blown the minds of the judges with their presentation and persuasion skills.
Daily News Egypt met Mohammed Abdel Shakour, ASU racing team’s supervisor and a teaching assistant at ASU, to further understand what the competition is all about, and what the new record the team has just set entails.
Can you elaborate on the Business Presentation?
The objective of the Business Presentation is to convince a company (represented by a panel of judges) to invest in your project. The rules dictate that you treat the judges as the executives of an imaginary manufacturing company that are interested in establishing a business partnership to manufacture your car.
Other role play options are possible, but the ‘manufacturing company’ role play is probably the easiest. If the team prefers a different scenario, all they have to do is inform the judges in the introduction. The panel automatically adopts the role play given to them, as long as it is a sensible one. It is the quality and content of the presentation that gets judged, not the technical specifications of the car.
This year, the team participated with two presentations, competing with 112 teams in the first round, and 22 teams in the second round. They scored the second place in class 1, and the first place in class 2. The team managed to make a historical record by beating dozens of international universities that have been participating in the competition for years now.
During his final speech, the lead business presentation judge explained why Ain Shams University has secured these two places.
“We got a really interesting winner here,” he said. “The winning team was an excellent example on how to cover all topics required in the allocated 10 minutes─seems quite simple, but is in fact quite difficult to achieve. The slides were complemented by a very professional handout, adding further weight to their case,” he added.
However, the judges felt that the most distinguished feature of the presentation was the enthusiasm and shear salesmanship of the presenter, Hend Hatem, who was then described as being blessed with a talent of public speaking. “I think I am correct in saying this is the first time we have had a winner here from this particular country. Congratulations Ain Shams University from Egypt,” the judge concluded.
Why is this title even more important than the one you got before?
FS is Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Backed by industry and high profile engineers, such as patron Ross Brawn, the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers.
In order to join the competition, teams are obliged to build a single-seat racing car from scratch. The students’ participation in the event displays their understanding of what they had studied throughout their academic journey.
Winning in such a prestigious competition against the world’s top-ranking universities is quite the accomplishment, given that the team consists of freshmen and sophomores. Also, this is the first time for any Arab, African, or Middle Eastern university to be on that stage and receive such an award.
What other teams made it to the finals?
The other finalists were the universities of Sussex, Aberdeen, Bath, and Liverpool (United Kingdom), ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), University of the Basque Country (Spain), and University of Lisbon (Portugal).
Tell us more about the winning cars?
The team participated in two classes. Class 1 is about fully manufactured cars, while class 2 deals with design concepts of electric cars. The fully-manufactured car ranked 63rd out of 112 teams, while the design concept for the electric car ranked fourth in class 2. The car that competed in class 2 featured an electric motor with a capacity of 75KW, and a difficult to manufacture light-weight carbon fiber monocoque (meaning a vehicle structure that integrates the body and the chassis).
The internal combustion car that competed in class1 featured a 600 cc engine with 60HP, with a maximum speed of 140km/hr. The car can accelerate to 100km/hr in a blasting 4.2 seconds. It is equipped with high traction slick tires with a very high grip and handling performance.
What did you add to the car in order to win the title?
Each year, the team tries to optimise the design of the car to bring about its best performance. However, this year the team designed a fully electric car that is operated by normal batteries, which are environmentally friendly and very cheap to recharge.
After participating in an important competition last year, how did you prepare for this one?
The team started planning as early as a year before the competition, starting with a recruiting campaign that consisted of five stages to filter around 1,000 applicants. The process aims to select the most hardworking, enthusiastic engineers that have it in them to go through the tough stages during the year.
Our alumni leaders prepared plans for the next year, so that the team could finish the car on time. Meanwhile, the marketing team started communicating with companies in order to acquire the needed funding.
What are your plans for next year?
The team already started collaborating with prestigious British universities that will help us during the optimisation phase of the electric vehicle, and are also willing to provide a test track on their campus.
The team aims to win three awards next year, specifically the Business Presentation for class 1 and 2, and the Cost and Sustainability competition. We will participate with two fully manufactured cars.
Meanwhile, we are planning to participate in two other competitions, namely the Shell Eco-marathon in Singapore and the Global Hybrid-Electric Challenge in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The team had already won the first and third places in the latest season of the latter.
In other words, the team is currently gearing up to create a total of six cars that are fully manufactured in Egypt.