4 November 2019

An average person might justifiably assume that Formula 1 racing cars would have little in common with undergraduate engineers.

Not so fast!

Through a unique industry partnership, a group of dedicated motoring enthusiasts at The University of Queensland now has access to the same engineering software used by many top F1 racing teams.

To the uninitiated, the StarCCM+ software developed by Siemens has all the characteristics of a magic box. It’s called a ‘software package’ because it’s actually a suite of powerful programs that can simulate almost any physical property in a computer model, often predicting real-world outcomes with uncanny accuracy.

Not unlike the way your desktop word-processing program has evolved over time, the Siemens programs are the latest iterations of software that has evolved and improved over several decades.

Essential for rapid prototyping, computer simulations help engineers overcome unforeseen design or performance issues; are often key to making products lighter/stronger, safer, more reliable; and help to speed-up the time it takes to bring conceptual ideas to fruition.

If you’re designing an underwater propulsion system, a blast furnace, a plane’s wing or a racing car, you'll want to have the most accurate and efficient computer modelling software you can lay your hands on.

Siemens StarCCM+ software programs can model all these things, and more, but it’s the company’s Computational Fluid Dynamics or CFD program that has captured the imagination of UQ undergraduate engineers.

UQ Racing is a team of UQ students who design, develop, and build internal combustion and electric race cars to compete in the Formula SAE competition.

The team is composed of a diverse selection of students from a range of backgrounds including engineering, business, marketing, and IT.

UQ Racing’s Alex Knott, a mechanical engineering student, says he runs a lot of StarCCM+ CFD simulations with the help of other members of the team.

“Once we receive a piece of CAD [Computer Aided Design] or someone has done up a geometry … then I usually either take that on hand or give it up to someone else who knows what they’re doing.

Many times we’ve run simulations and they come out with extraordinary results, really.

Fellow engineering undergraduate Jayden Luu says he’s also found the Siemens program easy to use.

“We’ve been using the software for a few months now and it was quite easy to pick-up,” he says.

“The user manual gave up a lot of insight, and we’ve had a lot of help from our academic adviser on how to use the Siemens software, as he has been using it for a long time.”

UQ Senior Lecturer Dr Stephen Hall is that advisor. He’s superbly qualified to coach students in the use of the Siemens StarCCM+ software.

A Mechanical Engineer with a Masters in Aeroscience, Dr Hall previously worked for a decade with one of the leading F1 teams in Europe.  As such, he’s one of only a handful of Australians who have used the StarCCM+ Siemens software in an F1 competition setting.

“My role in the team is to support, encourage and enable our students to challenge themselves and find out what they are capable of,” Dr Hall says

“I am constantly amazed at the level of creativity and engineering professionalism that our students demonstrate.

“There are a few techniques and processes used by UQ Racing that set a world-class example, even within the world of Formula 1”.

UQ Racing’s William Idoine says SAE racing is not quite wheel-to-wheel racing but it is fast!

“Teams without aerodynamic packages typically are a lot slower in the endurance races, and their performance is a lot less than ours,” William says.

“Every business that has a fluid flow problem should adopt this package. The entire software package is great for a wide range of things.”

The Siemens modelling programs are made available to UQ students as part of a $500 million software grant from Siemens.


Formula SAE is a design competition organised by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

The competition requires teams of students to design, develop and fabricate a small, Formula-style (open-wheeled and open-cockpit) race car while adhering to a set of general design requirements and regulations.

It is important to note that FSAE is not a motor sports competition. The design requirements and regulations are open enough for different teams to develop and implement different race car design philosophies. This challenges students to think of new and innovative ideas, while ensuring the safety of all competitors.

UQ Racing is a team of students from The University of Queensland who design, develop, and build race cars to compete in the Formula SAE competition.

The UQ team is composed of a diverse selection of students from a range of backgrounds including engineering, business, marketing, and IT.

Through involvement in the project, students gain practical engineering design and manufacturing experience as well as the opportunity to develop skills in project management, teamwork, networking, and financial and resource management.

The project is not just about results, but furthering student education, forging links with industry and creating well-rounded graduates.



UQ Racing

The engineering of motorsports: UQ Racing team compete in the annual FSAE-A competition


Below: The UQ Racing team does much of its track work on a practice circuit at Brisbane’s Lakeside Racetrack.















Below: Several of the top F1 teams use the Siemens Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling software to fine tune their cars’ all-important aerodynamics.











Below: Modifications for the latest SAE UQ race  car are tested using the Siemens software before any structural changes are made to the car.



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