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1st June 2017, 9:53am
Ready, set, go! Karting competition puts young engineering talent to the test
Go karts Could you be a future racing engineer? Are you craving a career in a Formula 1 pit lane? A new karting competition that will test up-and-coming talent could give young engineers their first taste of life in the fast lane.

Young speed enthusiasts have the opportunity to team up and pit themselves against each other in the competition, which will offer a unique opportunity to work alongside industrial engineers and university experts.

Hosted by the University of Lincoln, UK, the November SPARKler! Go Kart Competition invites schoolchildren, members of the public and university students to create small teams that will each build a bespoke racing kart and take part in a number of exciting trials.

Each team will be led by a local SPARK! member company such as Siemens or Dynex, and each will receive an essential kit to help develop key aspects of the karts such as seats, steering, braking systems, and wheels. They will also be supplied with a helmet and gloves for the racer, and can make use of a £100 budget for specialist parts to give their kart the edge.

Karts must be made from reclaimed materials, be human-powered only, and feature at least four wheels. They must also have a rollover hoop for safety.

Karts will be built over the coming months and the competition will culminate in three trials held indoors at the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Pool Campus on Saturday 4th November 2017: a drag race and brake test, a slalom, and a time trial. Teams will be assessed on their creativity, reasoning, design process and budgeting.

A team of judges from academic, industrial, educational and racing backgrounds will score the racers to determine the winner. Dave Harvey, the 2008 British Division 1 Superkart Champion, will also act as safety scrutineer for the event. The project is being funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s INGENIOUS Award.

The competition is open to secondary school pupils, college students and University students. Up to 10 teams will build karts in the their schools or the company which is acting as ‘team sponsor’, and space can be made available at the new Isaac Newton Building on the University of Lincoln campus during the summer months for design work to take place. Teams can also make use of specialist design software at the School of Engineering. Each team will have a maximum of eight members of the general public and their lead engineers will receive formal public engagement and safeguarding training from the EBP.

Mechanical Engineer Dr Colin Dowding, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Engineering, said the competition is a chance for people to explore their creative side and put school science to use.

“If you have always been fascinated in understanding how things work, or solving practical problems, this design and build competition will be a great way to express yourself in a friendly atmosphere,” Dr Dowding explained. “Team members will learn from real engineers and get to use some of their specialist equipment.

“We decided to base the competition around go-karts because they are accessible and there is plenty of inspiration out there, from Soap Box competitions and racing karts to children’s toys. They are fun to play with and there’s loads of scope for people to be creative and innovative.”

The competition is a SPARK! Legacy project, an off-shoot of Lincoln’s SPARK! Festival, which aims to inspire young people to get involved in science and engineering. The goal is to enrich the education of young people and undergraduates while challenging industry professionals to broaden their perspectives and think in new ways about problem solving.

It was established by the University of Lincoln, Oakwell Management Services Limited, and the City of Lincoln Council as a way to develop the already-successful SPARK! Festival.

The companies currently confirmed to be involved are Siemens, which will support two teams, Dynex Semiconductor, J.A. Harvey Limited, Lincoln Hack Space, and LEDA Suspension. Each of the teams will be named after their company sponsor, but they can give their karts inventive monikers.

To apply and to receive information about the project kick-off event, email

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