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First-year engineers qualify for worldwide tech competition

In 2013, first-year Lehigh engineering students Jonathan Whitcraft '17 and Collin Wolf '17 hit the road with their five-member group "Team Imperia" to compete at the  "F1 in Schools World Finals" competition in Austin, Texas.

F1 in Schools provides middle and high school students an opportunity to engage their minds in four areas: science, technology, engineering and math. Groups of three-to-six students form a team, assume roles and prepare a business plan, develop budgets and raise sponsorships to support materials needs and team travel to regional and national competitions. Teams evaluate the most efficient machining strategy to make the car out of balsa wood and then, at the competition, cars are tested in smoke and wind tunnels.

Students each take ownership of a different part of the process, from designing the car to handling the team’s finances. The competition requires that team members work together to receive sponsors and to build a functioning race car.

"The process of designing, testing, analyzing, and creating the car is a very extensive process," explained Jonathan Whitcraft, ’17. "Our team has created over one hundred different car designs throughout the season, each either varying a tiny bit by changing the angle of the front aerofoil, to a whole new car concept."

Team Imperia earned several awards at the National Competition at the Michigan International Speedway last May. The team received awards for the fastest car, best portfolio and second place overall at the national competition.

"Being able to do something hands-on is definitely encouragement to continue in engineering, especially when you know how rewarding it is to actually design and produce something." said Collin Wolf, ’17.

Whitcraft worked as the Team and Resources Manager, and as the Team and Resources Manager, he was in charge of managing the team and its finances. Wolf worked as the technical coordinator, including the responsibility to organize and write the portfolio, as well as writing and overseeing any formal information sent to sponsors. Along with three other teammates, Wolf and Whitcraft began the competition.

At the ninth annual F1 in Schools World Finals Competition, Whitcraft and Wolf’s team placed fourth out of 39 teams from 23 different countries.

Wolf and Whitcraft are both in their freshman year at Lehigh. Both boys credit their time in engineering classes in high school for sparking their interest in engineering and formula one racing. Whitcraft is also currently participating in the Baja SAE Club at Lehigh. Wolf intends to follow the Civil Engineering track, while Whitcraft plans on becoming a Mechanical Engineer.

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