Infiniti's global search for the best up-and-coming student engineering talent began its third successive year with the launch of the 2016 Infiniti Engineering Academy. Students from all over the world have the chance to earn the career opportunity of a lifetime working at Infiniti Motor Company, Ltd. and the Renault Sport Formula One™ Team.
Infiniti's new Technical Partnership with the Renault Sport Formula One™ Team includes, as a crucial component, this unique automotive-to-Formula One™ training program for brilliant young engineers.
"The caliber of last year's applications was extremely high, and based on the success of Alex Allmandinger (our 2015 U.S. champion), we are beyond excited to launch the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2016 in the United States," said Allyson Witherspoon, director, Marketing Communications and Media, Infiniti Americas. "The scale of the academy is even bigger than before, so we encourage all engineering students motivated by the fast-paced automotive and motorsport industry to apply for this incredible opportunity."
Success Breeds Success
Having launched the careers of previous U.S. winners Eric LaRoche and Alex Allmandinger, the academy is the technical recruitment initiative in Formula One™. This year, the following global Infiniti regions are participating: China, Europe (including Russia), Canada, Mexico, Asia & Oceania, Middle East and the United States.
"We are offering a mix of academic and professional experience across such disciplines as Electronics, Aerodynamics, Mechanical Design and Composite Design," explained Bob Bell, Renault Sport F1® Chief Technical Officer. "The academy offers a compelling opportunity for up-and-coming engineers to experience the fundamentals of automotive and motorsport engineering."
With the added depth of knowledge transfer, not least in Infiniti's performance hybrid expertise being used for joint ERS development in Viry-Châtillon, France, and enhanced scope for collaboration that Infiniti's Technical Partnership brings to the Academy, 2016 will open up a wide range of experiences and opportunities to the seven winners.
For more information on the Infiniti Engineering Academy, or to apply to be a part of the class of 2016, visit Academy.Infiniti.com.
A Q&A with Alex Allmandinger, IEA 2015 U.S. Winner
Q1: What was your initial reaction to learning that you had been selected for the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2015/16?
Allmandinger: I was extremely excited, of course. As soon as I applied, I knew what kind of impact that this program could have on my future and my career as an engineer. The opportunity to not only work in Formula One™, the pinnacle of motorsport, but also further my experience in the automotive industry – it's truly once in a lifetime. It's a unique experience to have the opportunity to really see the crossover between the two industries.
Q2: In which Regional Final did you compete, and what was the selection process like?
Allmandinger: The U.S. Final was very challenging, just as you would expect coming into a competition like this, although if I had to describe the application process, I would absolutely say rewarding. Even making it through the first application stage was awesome, and it was great to get recognition from some of the top people in Formula One™. As the process went on it almost became surreal – videos, more interviews and calls, further applications and write-ups, and eventually the U.S. Final. Each step was a victory in itself, and I'm just honored they ended up selecting me.
Q3: What types of projects were you working on at Infiniti?
Allmandinger: The last few months I have been in Infiniti's Customer Oriented Engineering group at the Infiniti Technical Center Europe. Our role is to provide the unique European voice into the design and development of upcoming vehicles, as well as future technologies used within the Nissan-Renault Alliance. To do this we use customer feedback and market research, as well as thorough static and dynamic vehicle evaluations. I've had the opportunity to work with some pretty cool technologies, as well as see what the future of the automotive industry looks like.
Q4: How has this helped you develop as an engineer and a person?
Allmandinger: I've learned quite a lot technically as well as personally. Moving to the UK and working within a different environment has been a great experience. I've had the chance to travel and work throughout Europe as well. This is great as an engineer in a global environment, as it's becoming more and more common to be working with people from around the world. On the technical side, I've had the chance to work with dozens of different systems and technologies, which has really advanced my understanding of many aspects of the automotive industry.
Q5: You've recently started your work placement in Formula One™. What aspects are you enjoying so far?
Allmandinger: I'm learning new skills all the time and applying these, and what I already know to the race car is thrilling for me. It is a really challenging environment, not only due to the technical aspects, but also the fast paced timelines and merciless nature of motorsport. I really enjoy seeing something that I worked on racing around the track on a Sunday.
Q6: What advice would you give to young engineers applying for this year's Infiniti Engineering Academy?
Allmandinger: The best advice that I can give for someone applying to the Infiniti Engineering Academy is to just go for it. All of us who are currently in the Academy were just students last year, and now we've gotten the chance to be Formula One™ engineers. If you're dedicated and passionate, there is no reason it can't be you. It's really too good of a chance to pass up.
A Q&A with Tommaso Volpe, Global Director, Infiniti Motorsport
Q1: Why is Infiniti running the Infiniti Engineering Academy again?
Volpe: This year more than ever our close relationship with F1 brings direct benefits to the development of our road cars. As the Technical Partner to the newly formed Renault Sport Formula One Team, specifically for the co-development of the Renault Sport R.E.16 Power Unit's Energy Recovery System (ERS), our Academy engineers will work across both road car and race car hybrid systems; cross-pollenating the application of the mirrored technologies. Just as the winners from previous years have done, the six candidates we find in 2016 will play a key role in bridging the gap between us and the race team.
Q2: What role will the winners play for Infiniti?
Volpe: Infiniti is in the middle of a major product offensive, and the Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid performance hybrid powertrain technology is a pillar of the Infiniti range of high performance vehicles, now and in the future. Our performance philosophy is deeply rooted in hybrid technology; we are pioneers of electrifying electrified performance, and as F1 continues to develop and flourish in this area, so too will our engineers working within the Renault Sport Formula One Team.
Q3: What are the main differences to last year's program?
Volpe: We're now in our third successive year, and year-on-year we've grown the number of Infiniti Engineering Academy placements available. From three, to five, and to six for 2016 – our global engineering talent search continues to offer the ultimate work placement for the cream of engineering undergraduate talent. This year we'll take a winner from each of the Regional Finals, from China, Europe (including Russia), Canada, Mexico, Asia & Oceania, with the Middle East and United States to be confirmed – truly global talent on an international stage.
Q4: What tips would you give to applicants for 2016?
Volpe: We want candidates that dare to be different – candidates who think about challenges from fresh angles and are brimming with the kind of creative human talents that we believe drive the greatest advances in high performance technologies. "Game changers" may sound clichéd, but the automotive industry and F1 have never been more competitive, so we need the best of the best.