Starting from their freshman year, automotive engineering students at FH Joanneum are involved in project work within the framework of project-based learning. Software projects complementary to the regular courses in the second and third semester increase the efficiency of knowledge transfer and fortify the students' motivation to learn and to co-operate actively. The second, requirement-intensified phase within this problem oriented curricular framework takes place in the junior year and involves student selected research and development projects. A popular and therefore most frequently chosen project is the development of a formula-style race car within the rules and standards of the Society of Automotive Engineers' international Formula Student competition. In this paper the impact of the Formula Student project on the Freshmen's and Sophomore's choice of student projects is described and discussed by specific examples. The fact that the young students take the initiative and define their own research topics poses new challenges to the project supervisors. The students' motivation, creativity and problem-solving skills ought to be supported while at the same time the projects' feasibility must be assured. Students and advisors need to agree on applicable solution strategies in the different phases of the projects.
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