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NIE Networks powered race car set to take Belfast school to Silverstone

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14 Oct 2019

Over the past year, NIE Networks has been supporting pupils from Campbell College on a unique challenge to design and build an electric racing car that is capable of competing at the world famous Silverstone racetrack.

The F24 challenge, an initiative run by the Greenpower Education Trust, uses the excitement of motorsport to inspire young people to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

NIE Networks supported Campbell College in purchasing a Greenpower Kit Car and one of the company’s engineers, Andrew Cundell, used his engineering skills to help the team ensure their car reached its ultimate racing potential and achieve speeds fast enough to compete in the competition.

Achieving 3rd place at the F24 qualifying event at Northern Ireland’s Kirkistown Racing Circuit earlier this year, Andrew and the Campbell College pupils are now set to travel to the finals at Silverstone, the current home of the British Grand Prix, this Thursday (17th).

Through various outreach and educational initiatives, NIE Networks engages with 18,000 young people in Northern Ireland annually, empowering them to engage more in STEM subjects and helping to address the skills gap in engineering.

Andrew Cundell, NIE Networks Engineer, commented:

“Our collaboration on the F24 challenge has been a resounding success. Silverstone will be the ultimate achievement for the students but for me the success comes from having the opportunity to pass my engineering skills onto the students and inspire the next generation to get involved.”

“The kit gave the team the essentials to have a car that was fit for purpose, however it didn’t have the potential to win races. I worked alongside the team to develop the cars electrics and drive train, while giving the students as much insight as possible into the process.“

“Encouraging young people to get involved with projects like this is incredibly important to NIE Networks. Engineering roles for the future are going to be very different. It will be a whole new landscape around renewable energy and decarbonisation, so it’s a fantastic time for young people to consider a career in this industry.”

Peter Campbell, Technology & Design teacher at Campbell College Belfast, added:

“As a first time competitor of the F24 challenge, reaching the final at Silverstone amongst some strong competition across the UK is a tremendous achievement for the college. Our pupils have learnt so much about the importance of collaboration, problem solving, innovation and the impact that STEM subjects can have on society.“ 

“There is a genuine interest from industry across NI to invest in and inspire our future generation of engineers and we have been overwhelmed by the commitment that NIE Networks has made to what we are trying to do.”

The relationship between NIE Networks and Campbell College began last year at Skills NI, an interactive event which inspires 14-19 year olds to pursue the career of their dreams. NIE Networks is once again the headline sponsor of this year’s Skills NI and will be on hand at the event to showcase the diversity engineering has to offer and their apprenticeship and graduate programmes.

The firm’s continued sponsorship and support of this event aligns with its own people engagement strategy and highlights its position as a market leader in learning and development in Northern Ireland. The company was awarded Best Apprenticeship Scheme for 2019 at the national CIPD People Management Awards in London last month.