Driving lessons

Germany’s version of the Formula Student contest offers an unparalleled learning experience to enable young engineers to boost their understanding of electric vehicles

Competitions for student automotive engineers have been running successfully for many years. The opportunity to put the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom into practice on the racetrack, or simply for students to apply their passion for all things automotive, is something that undergraduates from any era can be attracted to.

As passenger vehicles on public roads change, however, so too is the nature of the competitions that students take part in. 

Formula Student in Germany has been running an annual event using cars with internal combustion engines to allow students to develop their engineering skills for some time now. But back in 2010 the organisers started an electric vehicle event that runs alongside the original contest. 

“We strongly believe that we should give the students the challenge of electric mobility now,” explains Ludwig Vollrath, member of the board for Formula Student Germany, adding: “We saw that there was a demand for engineers able to deal with this subject in the industry, so we developed the contest.”

The competition pits against each other 143 teams from 34 countries worldwide – including North and South America, South Africa, Australia, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, China and Iran – but by far the largest majority are from within the European continent, with Germany alone accounting for 60 of the universities involved. 

Vollrath is convinced that this global imbalance is based on more than just the event being held within Europe’s borders. “I think it has to do with it being a very challenging subject, and it seems to be that the support of the sponsors for European universities is strong,” he says.

“Also, Europe really has electric vehicles on their mind. We all know that the next generation of cars will continue to go on combustion, but Formula Student is looking far ahead and we want students to be prepared for the future.”  

tags: Germany Jan-Feb 2016 Formula Student Hybrids & EVs