Pakistan’s First Women-Team Builds Formula Car To Race In Intl. Student Competition

JUL 3, 2018: Pakistan’s first all-girl team from National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has developed a Formula car and are all set to represent the country in the International Formula Student competition in England this month.

“It was a challenging job, but we completed our Formula car in just five months,” Harim Akhtar, one of the 13 who designed and built the car, told Arab News.

She said they submitted their plans to the Formula Student competition in December last year for approval . “We were among the lucky applicants to get our case approved,” she said.

Akhtar said they not only designed the car, but built it from scratch using local parts, including the engine, for the prototype, enabling them to keep costs down to $4,929.

“We made some of its parts ourselves in the university workshop,” she said, “using lathe machines and welding some parts. It was a challenge, but we did it.”

One of the hardest bits was persuading their parents to allow them to stay at the university garage and workshop until late at night. “Our parents were not used to allowing us stay out late, and sometimes it was difficult to convince them,” she said.

Pakistan’s first all-female team gathers in a room at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad to brainstorm design and manufacturing the Formula car. (Photo courtesy: Facebook page of Auj – Formula Student)

Akhtar said when they first visited auto spare parts dealers in a Rawalpindi market some were shocked at first. “They were not used to dealing with female customers. Some even advised us to stay at home as this job was only meant for boys,” she said.

Formula Student —Europe’s most established educational engineering competition — is backed by high profile engineers and global industries. It aims to develop innovative and enterprising young engineers from around the world and encourage more people to start a career in engineering.

Each year hundreds of competitors take on the challenge of producing a prototype single-seat racing car for sprint racing or autocross. The finished vehicle is presented to a manufacturing firm for technical evaluation.

The NUST team’s car can go from 0-100 kilometers per hour in just 4.5 seconds and has 90 horsepower engine.

The team will compete against 30 other teams from around the world.

Farzana Bari, a human rights activist and former head of the gender studies department at Islamabad’s Quaid-i-Azam University, said manufacturing the car by an all-female team demonstrated female empowerment in the society.

“In our urban centers opportunities for women are expanding and it is encouraging to see they are excelling in every field of life,” she told Arab News.

“The NUST team is an inspiration to other women too,” she said. “This shows women are challenging stereotypes in all fields of life.”

The competition will take place on July 11-15 at Silverstone, the British home of motor racing in Northamptonshire, England.

Talking about the team’s future plans, Harim Akhtar said that they would produce a formula car each year to improve its design and manufacture. “We hope to learn a lot of new technical skills from the competition and will try to achieve perfection in our next model,” she said.

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