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I studied Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College in London and graduated in 2009. Then I moved on to work in the automotive industry, designing and producing electric and hybrid vehicles and, recently, I joined Shell. The knowledge and experience I gained through my involvement in Formula Student helped huge amounts when it came to my future career in the industry.

I first got involved with Formula Student in my second year at university, simply helping out the  fourth-year students with their IC Engine vehicle build. However, a new initiative had recently started at Imperial called “Imperial Racing Green”, in which the students designed, built and ran hybrid or electric race vehicles. I spent my third year building a Hydrogen Fuel Cell/Supercapacitor hybrid go-kart, and then moved on to become the Chief Powertrain Engineer for IRG04 (Imperial’s entry into Formula Students Class 1A competition) in my final year.

The plan for IRG04 was ambitious to say the least. The vehicle design called for a 4-wheel independent drive vehicle powered by a Hydrogen Fuel Cell /LiPo Battery pack hybrid powertrain: the first of its kind at Formula Student. My responsibility was to deliver the entire powertrain hardware for the vehicle, managing many sub-teams in order to provide a working system ready for Formula Student (which was only nine months away!). In addition to co-ordinating the teams’ efforts, I designed and built the Lithium-Ion Battery pack that the vehicle used. Suffice to say, the deadlines were incredibly short and there was a lot to do!

Aran Kankiwala provides personal highlights from Formula Student 2013

After many sleepless nights, the vehicle was finished and we arrived at Silverstone for the Formula Student event. We arrived quite late on the day, and it was nice to see that a few teams were actually waiting for us to arrive to get a look at what we had built! It just goes to show that motorsport fans love to see what green technology has to offer; even Damon Hill came over to see the car! It was great to see the enthusiasm everyone had for renewable energy and technologies, and it was impressive to see how much all those involved enjoyed talking about the energy sector and how events like Formula Student can be used to showcase new and innovative technologies.

Although the vehicle lost out to some of the more standard designs at the event, our hard work was not in vain as the team received the “Most Innovative & Effective Engineering Design” award. The whole Formula Student experience was incredibly valuable; focusing on very important skills such as team working, problem solving and innovation. I couldn’t recommend highly enough that students get involved in one of the many different areas Formula Student has to offer. It was an experience that I will not forget!

By Aran Kankiwala