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Engineering’s no drag in motorsport

UTC Reading and UTC Oxfordshire students teamed up at Santa Pod Raceway

Around 100 Year 12 engineering students from UTC Reading and UTC Oxfordshire discovered that learning doesn’t have to be a drag when they teamed up at a fantastic day at Santa Pod Raceway last week, exploring the engineering side of the world's fastest motorsport - dragster racing.

The students started the day with an introduction to Drag Racing and its history, including the challenges that the sport faces in the future. They were then split into four groups to complete four 30-minute interactive sessions, meeting teams and drivers and looking at their race vehicles. One of these sessions focussed on the engineering challenges of dragster racing, which pushes the internal combustion engine to the limits of its capability. In the afternoon they were free to watch the racing (with compulsory ear plugs!) and see the vehicles and teams practising for the Euro Finals on 11 and 12 September, before heading back to college.

Engineering teacher Dr Martin Thomas was happy to see the students enjoying the day.

“Our students were so excited to be out and about again after the restrictions of Covid. It is so rewarding to get them back into the real world of engineering.”

Getting the students to engage with industry and see the relevance of what they are learning in the real world is one of the things ALET’s UTCs are all about, and it was especially good to see ‘sister’ UTCs collaborating in this way to scale up learning opportunities. Students will take many things back from this engineering engagement in terms of learning and team building experience – as well as having some great memories of a terrific day out.

Martin sends ‘a really massive thank you’ to Santa Pod Raceway and to Grace Roaf for running the day, and to the four racing teams that let the students 'crawl all over' their racers in the pits while telling them all about the engineering challenges they face pushing their vehicles to the limits of machine and driver.

“A truly unique experience,” said Martin.

“We're really looking forward to exploring future educational opportunities that lead on from this contact.”

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