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Kinsale’s ‘Flat Out’ Racing Team Are Driving On

Five lads from Kinsale Community School are currently working around the clock in preparation for the F1 in Schools national finals this April.

The competition challenges students to come together as a team and create a miniature formula 1 car from scratch as well as growing a team brand, acquiring sponsors, building a pit display and marketing their team. Each member has taken responsibility for a certain area for Flat Out Racing (as the team is called) with Charlie Sheehan as team manager, Ben Loughnane as sponsorship and marketing manager, Conor Fitzpatrick as manufacturing engineer, Kris O’Callaghan as design engineer and Zack O’Brien as graphic designer.

The final car is the result of an extensive design and engineering process. After Zack created sketches and design concepts, Kris then began designing 3D models of the car on a computer aided design program called Solidworks which he self-taught himself. With these designs finalised,

Conor produced several sample parts using a 3D printer in school and the car is now currently in the final stages of production using a variety of machinery. Conor explained ‘’The car is propelled down a track just over 20 metres in length using a gas cannister and our aim is for it to complete this distance in under 1.5 seconds.”

Switching gears to the enterprise side of the project, Flat Out has acquired several sponsors on its journey so far. These include primary sponsors ThermoFisher Scientific, Flogas and Greyhound Express Freight and associate sponsors Kinsale Physiotherapy Practice, Centra Kinsale and Rhino Print.

Ben says “We’ve been in communication with a qualified KPMG accountant as well as engaging with lecturers from UCC to make sure that we set out and executed effective financial and marketing strategies to maximise the sustainable growth of our team”. The team has been active in promoting themselves on their social media platforms and website while simultaneously raising awareness in the locality. Furthermore, they recently presented to 3rd- 6th class pupils from Summercove National School regarding the project and promoting young people in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths).

The competition is a brilliant opportunity for students to take skills learnt in science, business and maths classes and apply them to the real world. Charlie says; “Our critical thinking, creative, design and strategic skills have all come on so much because of this competition. We are essentially running our own miniature f1 team”.

The Carrigdhoun Newspaper has noted how accomplished these students are and the detailed nature of the project. During the course of the last 6 months the lads have developed so many important skills that can be utilised in future careers. There is unanimous agreement within the team that Leaving Cert subject choice was influenced by participating in this competition, with Conor picking engineering and Ben picking accounting for example.

The team is looking forward to the national final next month. It will be going ahead in a virtual format with a broadcast on TG4 to document the competition on the 23rd of April. This will mark the end of a week long event. During the week, the team will present their work to judges over zoom in a series of presentations and will race their car against teams from across the nation.

Ben noted that “The ultimate goal is to be national champions and travel to the world finals in Singapore later this year”. The top 4 teams qualify for Singapore with a €3,000 cheque on offer for the national champions. We wish the lads best of luck in their efforts!!

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