Oxford Brookes Racing students inspire Egyptian university to form first ever motor racing team

Oxford Brookes University representatives visit Helwan University

Motorsport engineering students at a university in Egypt have formed a new motor racing team after joining forces with the award-winning Formula Student team, Oxford Brookes Racing.

Formula Student is the world’s largest student motorsport competition and challenges university motorsport engineering teams from across the globe to design, build and race a single-seat racing car in one year. 

As the UK’s most successful Formula Student team, Oxford Brookes Racing has a wealth of engineering experience, particularly with electric cars, having made the shift to non-combustion engines for the 2020 racing season. 

Now the Oxford Brookes motorsport engineering students have been working with students and staff at Helwan University in Cairo, who have designed and built their own all-electric car, and will be competing alongside Oxford Brookes at the Formula Student competition in Silverstone in July. 

The partnership between the two universities is part of the ZEMO Egypt project, funded by the British Council, which also aims to inspire a new generation of women engineers in Egypt. Both the team leader and deputy team leader roles in the Formula Student team in Helwan University are occupied by women.

Gordana Collier, Principal Academic Adviser for Oxford Brookes Racing and also Head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at Oxford Brookes University, said: “This project has given Helwan University such an exciting way of reinvigorating the curriculum. 

“Through this project our Egyptian colleagues were able to capture the imagination of their students to go beyond their study and exams and put this University on the map of Egypt as one of  the few universities in the field of Automotive Engineering. We love working with the Helwan team and are truly excited to see them competing at Formula Student UK, at Silverstone in July.”

The partnership between Oxford Brookes and Helwan University started ten years ago and came about thanks to a connection between Oxford Brookes Reader in Mechanical Engineering, Dr Stephen Samuel, and Professor Ahmed Hassaneen of the Faculty of Technology at Helwan University,.

Professor Hassaneen was a Post-Doctoral researcher with Dr Samuel from 2008 to 2010 in the School of Engineering at Oxford Brookes University. Since then, the pair have published 12 research papers together in the field of air pollution and automotive engines.

In 2015, Professor Hassaneen and Dr Samuel submitted a successful application for funding to the British Council to develop a research link between Oxford Brookes and Helwan University. 

Following months of planning, two members of academic staff and four student team leaders from Helwan University spent a week at Oxford Brookes in January 2023, receiving guidance on building an all-electric race car. 

Then in March, a team from Oxford Brookes travelled to Egypt to spend time in Helwan University, where they met students and senior staff at the university, and also presented a seminar. 

The Formula Student competition will take place from 19 to 23 July at Silverstone, just ten days after the F1 British Grand Prix, with over 100 teams across 30 countries competing.

Formula Student at Silverstone launched in 1981 and is the largest student motorsport competition in the world. Teams compete by designing and building their own single-seat race cars, which can be either combustion or electric powered. The cars are judged over the weekend on speed, acceleration and endurance.