Five hundred hours.
That’s how long it took to build 14 miniature C02-powered balsa wood race cars that travel at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
That’s how quickly a group of Southeast High School students won the Formula One In Schools World Championship in Singapore on Wednesday.
The winning team, Unitus Racing, includes seniors Brandon Miranda, Tony Griffin and Yatrik Solanki; junior Amanda Clark, Southeast graduate Mark Nanney and Nieman Pest — a middle school student from Roanoke, VA.
“This is an unbelievable moment for all of us,” Clark wrote in an e-mail from the south Asian country Wednesday. “We are so proud to honor the USA with an award like this. All the work has paid off and we have a huge trophy to bring home.”
In addition to the 14-pound trophy, the team got to meet Formula One drivers and teams during a visit to the Singapore Grand Prix race paddocks.
Formula One In Schools is an international competition in which teams of middle and high school students use computer-aided design software to create identical race cars. It inspires students to learn about physics, aerodynamics, mathematics and marketing. Students build and race the cars, design a portfolio and display and make a verbal presentation to complete competition requirements.
The Southeast students, who’ve been overseas since last week, competed at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre.
The team also won the “Best Sponsorship & Identity” award and was nominated for “Best Engineered Car,” “Best Portfolio” and best “Brand Identity” awards.
“Our track times put us in the top eight out of 25 cars,” Miranda said. “We were within about two-hundredths of a second off the other cars in the final knock out rounds this morning.”
“We were consistent with each category and had a perfect technical score on our cars,” said Nanney, a 2010 Southeast graduate attending Florida Institute of Technology. “All of us have proven that hours of work, teamwork and perseverance pays off.”
Southeast’s team was sponsored by businesses including Lockheed Martin, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, Advance Auto Parts, and Manatee Adult, Career and Technical Education Department.
“These kids have put in hours on their own to build the cars,” said Southeast High Principal Cathy Smith.
The cars weigh less than 2 ounces, Smith said, and can reach speeds of up to 45 mph. Students built them in six months. Races take place on a 65-foot track.
Three students from Braden River High School also competed at the event. Team BayWa had a strong finish, district officials said, but results had not been posted Wednesday. That team includes seniors Brandon Demers and Jeremy Petty, graduate Ahmed Hares and students from Germany.
“We are thrilled and are so pleased that our students can compete globally,” Manatee Superintendent Tim McGonegal said.
The Southeast High team was invited to join the 2009 Formula One In Schools National Champions from James Madison Middle School in Roanoke. Braden River High’s team was invited to compete as a collaborative team with Heinrich-Heieine-Gymnasium from Munich, Germany.
Both invitations were extended to the local teams after their 2009 standings from the Denver Formula One In Schools National Competition.