GE’s Commitment to STEM for the Next Gen
October 27, 2022
Although still in secondary school, six students from Jebel Ali School in Dubai have already designed and built two F1 race cars. What’s more, they have placed seventh out of 30 teams in the Professional Class Final Standing of the 2022 F1 in Schools competition in the UAE.
Now, we’re not talking about full-sized cars of course. The cars they are designing, and racing are powered by pressurized CO2 canisters and cannot be more than 20cm long. Still, the participants are still getting tremendous experience in teamwork, branding, design, engineering, and many other skills in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“This competition has opened a whole range of new experiences to the students,” said Mr. Simon Kuznetsov, Head of Design Technology and Lead Teacher for the F1 in Schools program at the school. “The program really pushes them outside their comfort zones. I’ve seen them mature incredibly, and have seen how they learned to work as a team and under pressure.
“It really builds character, generates excitement, and allows them to explore their passions – setting them up for success in the future in university and in their careers,” Mr. Kuznetsov added.
F1 in Schools Ltd is a not-for-profit company established to create a global multi-disciplinary challenge in which teams of students aged 11 to 19 deploy CAD/CAM software to collaborate, design, analyze, manufacture, test, and then race miniature compressed air-powered cars made from F1 model block, a polyurethane-based material.
The Slipstream GP team, as they have named themselves, is comprised of 13-year-old eighth graders who have participated in competitions in 2021 and 2022, and are working on their 2023 entry. They are Omar Abdulqader, Fares Alkhatib, Mika Ahmed, Mateusz Borowiak, Ridha Ahmed and Lewis Beale.
Encouraged by their seventh-place finish in 2022, team principal and design manager Omar Abdulqader says that this year, the team is aiming to make it to the World Finals by earning the top placement in the UAE.
They have learned much over the past two years, including during the 2022 season, when they gained a larger team and a bigger budget, thanks in part to GE, which sponsored the team.
As a result, they were able to do more advanced testing, data collection and analysis, including through the use of computation fluid dynamics (CFD) testing, which shows air flow around the car to see where aerodynamics can be improved. They will continue to build on that experience for the 2023 competition.
Already, their participation has helped them imagine their future more clearly.
“Next year, we take GCSEs [General Certificate of Secondary Education] and have to choose our subjects and tests,” explained Omar. “This STEM project is making us more and more interested in doing mechanical engineering. This is a stepping stone into the world of mechanical engineering, but many other aspects too – such as graphic design for the logos and team identity, social media, and marketing to shape a brand identity.”
Another team member, Mateusz Borowiak, Production Manager, said participation provided “great experience for the future and for life. Part of it is making the commitment, but also teamwork, facing challenges and meeting deadlines. It’s great to build up these skills so we will know how to deal with similar things in the future.”
The sponsorship of the Slipstream GP team in the F1 in Schools competition is part of GE’s ongoing support to building STEM skills in schools and universities across the region to help build a vibrant STEM workforce to support economic development and expand the pipeline of potential future GE engineers, scientists, technicians and researchers.
Other recent examples of this support include hosting students at GE facilities in the region. Earlier this year, GE Aviation hosted a job shadowing event for six female high school students in Dubai, while in Kuwait, 30 aspiring electrical engineering students were welcomed to the GE Kuwait Technology Center.
Read more here about how GE supports the development of STEM skills across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey region.