All photos courtesy of Christian Rusli

It’s graduation season, which means it’s time for students to bust out their eleventh hour creativity. For some, that means trying to snap their fingers to turn that questionable grade into a solid A during the last week of classes to make sure they won’t have to have an awkward conversation with the parents about why they need a summer semester to actually get their degree. For others, like two students at the University of Texas at Austin, that means making the coolest Formula One graduation caps you’ve ever seen.

Christian Rusli and Joshua Smith, two engineering students, came up with the idea as many of the best ideas have been dreamed up: in a total last minute panic.

As Rusli says, F1 has been a huge part of their lives in Austin:

Putting anything else on that cap just wouldn’t have been us. F1 weekend here in Austin has been the highlight of our year for the past 4 years and we get groups of friends together to have watch parties every chance we get.


They remembered the DRS hats that fans had made in Suzuka last year, and that was it. As far as I (and they) know, that’s never actually been pulled off on a grad cap before. And that was it.

There’s no cut-and-dry formula for sticking an F1 wing on your grad cap, so Rusli and Smith were on their own, with only some helpful recommendations from local art store, Asel’s. They stocked up on mat board, acrylic paint, Krazy Glue, and plenty of reference images and set to work. They free-handed drawing the wings before cutting them out with a box cutter and painting them with help from Rusli’s girlfriend, Alexa.


It was pretty smooth sailing until they had to figure out how to emulate the logo lettering for their chosen teams: Haas for Smith and McLaren for Rusli. But the two made it work out well; the final product looked pretty legit.

Probably the coolest part is that you can actually remove the wings from the graduation cap without damage! They’re not glued on, since that might not have worked; instead, Rusli and Smith cut notches into the end plates so that you can slip them onto the cap. That way, you can slide them on and off, and they’re way sturdier. Plus, they didn’t have to sit and wait around for glue to dry to see if their hard work paid off.


It’s the kind of ingenuity and creativity I’d expect from the graduating engineers at UT, but the real question is: how did they hold up? Well, Rusli had good news:

The caps survived the whole graduation process and I’m pretty sure I felt some downforce being generated as we processed up to the tower. I’m sure it helped keep the caps glued to our heads all night!

Not too bad for a last minute mad dash project.