Engineering student revs up his study on race track

News News & events

08 Oct 2015

A budding mechanical engineer is using his skills to gain more expertise in motorsport.

CPIT student George McFarlane, in the third year of his Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree, is already putting the institute's new engineering systems analysis elective to good use as a race car driver.

photo of George McFarlane 
Race car driver and CPIT student George McFarlane is fuelling his passion for motorsport with engineering know-how from his studies at CPIT. Pictured, studying CAD design, which is included in the institute's new engineering systems analysis elective.

This practical module has enabled him to develop and apply engineering design, problem solving and analytical skills to a range of engineering systems, including race cars. The elective covers CAD design, engine simulation, along with dyno testing, tuning and management systems, suspension and aerodynamics.

"I wanted to be able to do have all these skills, so that I could do more myself. It makes it easier to understand mechanical problems if you know the theory and how to put it into practice, so that you know what's happening and how to fix it," McFarlane said.

A successful driver both regionally and nationally, McFarlane and his father Angus McFarlane won the ASKO Three Hour Endurance Series at Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna near Christchurch last weekend (Saturday October 3).

Prior to the race, he and his classmates spent time at the Ruapuna circuit analysing race-car performance data and problem-solving by using the engineering solutions learned on their course. Data-loggers were attached to two cars to record factors affecting the car's performance, such as velocity, acceleration and g-forces.

McFarlane hopes to make a career in automotive design analysis and is already using his mechanical design skills in his other passion, Go-Kart racing.

His engineering study has given the 28 year-old Christchurch man a second chance at a new career.  He chose to attend CPIT when his family's property development business saw a severe downturn following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011.

"It's been hard, going from having a salary and paying a mortgage to being a student with no income and a mortgage but the advantage of having been in the workforce and being a bit older than my classmates is that I know how to get the study done - and then have fun!"

This usually involves hours in his home workshop, experimenting with what he's learning at CPIT.

"Seeing it ties it all in and makes it easier to remember."

Image of student George McFarlane's racing car
The car raced by CPIT engineering student George McFarlane and his father Angus McFarlane, which carried them to victory at Ruapuna last weekend (Saturday October 3).

Photo: Euan Cameron