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Infiniti Engineering Academy offers chance to work with F1 team


The 2019 Infiniti Engineering Academy Canada winner, Mathew Kemp, is flanked by F1 star Daniel Ricciardo to his left and Adam Patterson, managing director, Infiniti Canada.
The 2019 Infiniti Engineering Academy Canada winner, Mathew Kemp, is flanked by F1 star Daniel Ricciardo to his left and Adam Patterson, managing director, Infiniti Canada. - Richard Russell

I am frequently asked by students, or their parents, how they can get a career in the automobile industry.

Many of them want to get involved in the racing world.

Those who want to gain access to the highest level of motorsport would be wise to consider the Infiniti Engineering Academy.

This unique automotive-to-motorsport engineering recruitment program, now in its fourth year, gives engineering students the opportunity for a one-year placement with Infiniti and the Renault F1 team.

The 2018 winner, Chase Pelletier has just finished six months in the United Kingdom with the Renault F1 team in the Performance Optimization department and will now move a few miles away to the Chassis and Performance Engineering Department at the Infiniti technical centre.

The 2017 winner, Matthew Crossan, now works full-time with Renault F1 Team as a Simulation Development Engineer in the team’s Vehicle Performance Group in the U.K.

Tommaso Volpe, director of Infiniti Global Motorsport and Performance Projects, says the Infiniti Engineering Academy is an effort to grow talent parallel with technology.

He said the program is looking for young engineers with passion, and the ability to work under stress within a system. “It also allows us to observe their ability to adapt to different cultures. They will be ambassadors for the Infiniti brand,” Volpe said.

Pelletier, last year’s winner said the huge pressure during the intense competition, added to the excitement. A kart and open wheel racer, he thinks the combination of theory and practice has been useful. “Education gives you the foundation. Work is when you really start learning,” he said.

The global search for fresh engineering talent takes place in seven regions, including Canada. The number of entries has grown steadily as word of the opportunity has spread throughout the engineering academic community.

In Canada, entries were up 46 per cent this year. Almost 200 engineering students from Memorial University in Newfoundland to the University of British Columbia applied.

The entry list was narrowed to ten students, who were flown to Montreal. The top ten this year, included students from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

They competed in a variety of intense challenges, including building a small-scale prototype car, interviews and a decision-making test administered by a Harvard University professor who specializes in decision science.

Among the other judges at this stage were Infiniti’s global director of performance projects and motorsports, it’s motorsport technical manager, a PhD from the Renault F1 aerodynamics department, and the senior manager for R&D recruitment, Nissan USA.

The list was then cut down to three finalists: Mathew Efthimiades from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Derrick Tan from the University of Waterloo and Mathew Kemp from the University of Calgary.

The trio underwent further scrutiny at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve prior to the Canadian Grand Prix at the Renault F1 Team's pit lane, garage and paddock areas.

As ambassadors for Infiniti, these young people might have to deal with the media, so they were subjected to a media challenge. The six of us were encouraged to ask questions that were “out of the box” to test their prowess at thinking on their feet.

As if this wasn’t enough pressure, they had to answer under the watchful eyes of members of the Renault F1 team and drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Riccardo.

The final test was timed limited. The three finalists had to assemble a complex exhaust system from the current Renault F1 car. Only one of them managed to do so in the allotted time.

The judges adjourned to tally the votes and Ricciardo opened the envelope and announced the winner — 23-year-old Mathew Kemp of Airdrie, Alberta.

Teamwork is a critical part of the workplace, especially in the highly-charged world of Formula One. The candidate’s part of the test and evaluation program.

That will continue in January when Mathew begins his work term in the UK. He will be housed with the six other winners from different cultures around the globe.

Interested in this once-in-a-lifetime experience? Visit www.infiniti.ca/en/infiniti-engineering-academy/


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