Student news and successes

The UGRacing team car at the Silverstone race track.

Racing to no.1 spot

A team of UofG students has taken first place in a major international competition to design, build and drive single-seater racing cars.

The UGRacing team took first place at the finals of the Formula Student competition at the Silverstone race track in July, beating dozens of other teams from around the world for the top spot. They are only the third UK team to win first place in the competition’s 25-year history.

The team, which is made up of nearly 140 students drawn from across the University’s four colleges, are the first from Scotland to win the competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Formula Student is an engineering competition open to those studying at universities across the UK and overseas. Established in 1998, it challenges teams to build and race single-seater high-performance cars against each other, with finals held at Silverstone each summer.

The finals combine formal presentations of students’ work throughout the year with a range of on-track events that demonstrate the capabilities of their car.

Fraser Cowie is the UGRacing’s team principal: “In addition to the work we’ve been putting in on the internal combustion engine racing car which won the competition, we’ve also been developing a battery-powered electric car which we plan to race in next year’s competition. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and our win has inspired us to do even better next year. We’re looking forward to getting started on our designs for 2023.”

Satellite design set for launch

UofG students will see a satellite they designed sent into space after winning a £600,000 national competition.

The GU Orbit team were announced as the winners of the LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition, run by the UK Space Agency and Department for Transport.

They beat 40 teams from across the UK, aged between 16 and 37, with the judges praising their entry for identifying a clear way to tackle climate change and test new technologies. The team spent months of intensive work on design and planning, with feedback provided by experts from the UK Space Agency.

The team’s design for a satellite capable of monitoring climate change from space will now be built and could be launched from a UK spaceport as soon as next year. The team’s design, called OirthirSAT, is a nanosatellite which aims to monitor shorelines and coastal vegetation from orbit using images taken in the visible and near-infrared portions of the spectrum.

Those images, aggregated over time and processed onboard the nanosatellite, could help scientists and policymakers to track, quantify and mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal regions.

First place in taskbot challenge

A major international competition to develop next-generation conversational assistants has been won by UofG students.

The GRILL team from the School of Computing Science took first place in Amazon’s Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge, beating nine leading research teams worldwide.

The competition challenged university students to build taskbots that assist people carrying out multi-step tasks, such as baking a birthday cake or fixing a scratch on a car – and to adapt those instructions based on the resources and tools available to the individual. If, for example, someone ran out of an ingredient halfway through a recipe or didn’t have a specific tool for a DIY project, the taskbot had to adjust the plan and suggest possible solutions.

The team wins a cash prize of $500,000 (£414,000).

This article was first published September 2022.

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