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University Of Canterbury Motorsport

Designing And Creating Competition-Ready Motorcars

UCM is a student run club at the University of Canterbury designing and creating competition-ready motorcars. Each year they compete with a brand-new car at Formula-SAE Australasia – giving students an exciting entry into the world of motorsport.

Team principal Isha Patel says UCM’s close connections to industry accounts for their success, with Christchurch providing the perfect environment for students to flourish.

How does UCM work?

Basically, you've got fourth year students from mechanical mechatronics and electrical through to business who have the opportunity to gain experience in all aspects of the design, manufacture and testing of a car for competition at the end of the year in Melbourne. The whole point is that we are supplementing what's taught in courses at UC, and applying what we learn to a real-life project. 

In 2023 UCM won first place for EVs at Formula-SAE. Are you hoping to grow on that?

Our main goal this year is to win more dynamic events. Our car focused heavily on reliability and simplicity in 2023. This year, we want the car to be just as reliable, but have a better performance overall.

It sounds like the technology UCM works on is at the forefront of Christchurch’s sustainability mission?

UCM has been designing and building electric vehicles since 2016. We also work with UC’s Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre), which is New Zealand’s pioneering research centre for electric power and clean energy applications. We’ve worked with them for a lot of their research projects, so we’re very lucky to have that connection.

How else does the Christchurch’s innovation ecosystem support UCM?

A lot of our sponsors are based right here in Christchurch, so you're able to have those face-to-face conversations. It's about providing that extra industry connection to students and fostering those relationships. Those industry connections provide students with extra skills which gives them an edge on other graduates, and then on top of that, they've got these pre-existing connections that they can really utilize when they graduate.

How does that kind of supportive ecosystem benefit a club like UCM?

A deciding factor for a lot of students, looking at studying engineering is what opportunities there are available outside of the university. Christchurch is an environment where you can learn innovation and design, you're able to be creative, and it's a really supportive environment for that.

There's so many opportunities here in Christchurch. There's so many people looking to design, looking to innovate, and in a city that's on the up. It's just the perfect place to be for that.