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Engineering student wins opportunity of a lifetime from Infiniti

Have you ever wanted to land a dream internship? For 10 Canadian engineering students, a chance of a lifetime was presented to them by the Infiniti Engineering Academy.

The Infiniti Engineering Academy is now in its fourth year – second time in Canada – with seven students chosen from around the world representing various regions (Asia and Oceania, Canada, China, Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and the United States). It originally began as part of the Red Bull Racing/Infiniti partnership, but that venture has expanded and been embraced by Renault Sport, naturally tying into its Renault-Nissan alliance.

If you've ever watched American Idol, you would get a sense for what these students will go through – only in an accelerated two-day competition. It's a gauntlet of sorts: stand out from thousands of resumes, various phone and in-person interviews, test well on video and media training, use on-the-spot problem solving skills, possess technical abilities and knowledge of the industry, and work as a team to build a successful miniature race car.

It was a two-day grind that had its ups and down, but the cream eventually rose to the top. For 2017, it was Matthew Crossan, a Masters of Engineering Science student at Western University who impressed the three judges and a host of automotive journalists to claim this coveted internship opportunity to begin in October.

With the win, Crossan receives a one-year paid internship opportunity split between working with Infiniti's European Technical Center in Cranfield, UK and the Renault Sport Formula One team at its Technical Center in Enstone, UK.

When my name was announced, I couldn’t believe it,” explains Crossan. “I met nine other very capable and strong candidates in the final, who were all deserving of the opportunity, so I feel very fortunate to be selected as the winner. I can’t wait to get started and I will give it all to prove I am a winner worthy of this amazing opportunity.”

For the second year in a row, the event took place at Luciani Infiniti in Montreal, ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. A few tweaks were made to the program, as according to Tommaso Volpe, Global Director, Infiniti Motorsport, “the program is constantly evolving.”

For this year, the academy has partnered with Microsoft, and in doing so, the students have been tested on more technical elements involving data sorting. In a few weeks, a culmination of sorts will occur when the American academy program takes place at Microsoft's headquarters in Seattle.

But like many great television show cliffhangers, the Infiniti Engineering Academy saved the best surprise for last when Renault Sport Nico Hulkenberg made an appearance, announcing Crossan as the winner.

Engineering is priceless in Formula One, and bringing the next generation into the team can only help bring race wins, and hopefully a championship,” adds Hulkenberg.

The Infiniti Engineering Academy may have started as a small venture to recruit young talent, but awareness has grown with an increase from 4,000 applicants in 2016 to a whopping 12,000. According to Volpe, its more than just a marketing ploy, as last year's UK winner Daniel Sanham will soon start a full-time position in the electronics department at Renault Sport. 



Infiniti Engineering Academy announces first Canadian winner

Montreal, QC – Back in June, we witnessed Daniel Sanham – the 2015 European winner of the Infiniti Engineering Academy – share his story to students at McGill University. For 2016, Canada was one of seven countries/continents to hold its own competition for one engineering student to earn a one-year paid internship split between six months at Infiniti’s European Technical Center in Cranfield, UK and the other six with the Renault Sport Formula One team.

Sanham's speech was both inspirational and educational to those on hand at McGill, and it wasn't surprising to hear that two of the ten chosen finalists out of thousands of entries were in Montreal that day.

All ten gathered in a room at Le Westin Montreal with a strange combination of fear and determination in their eyes. They didn't know what the challenges were, nor the expectations; they didn't know their competition; and what's with all of the cameras and media hovering around?

Each and every one of them had to rely on their inner confidence. In reality, they were all intelligent in their craft, but smarts can only get you so far. The three judges – Andy Todd, Director of Body and Exterior Engineering at Nissan UK; Ralph Koyess, Vehicle Performance Engineer at Renault Sport Formula One; and Stephen Lester, Managing Director of Infiniti Canada – were looking for how each individual worked as a leader, as well as how they worked as part of a team. But maybe the one most important tool they needed to show was whether the judges could see them blending in as a valuable asset with Infiniti and the Renault Sport F1 team.

The students chose their own groups of five and they would stay in those groupings for most of the competition, outside of a reshuffle on the second day for a separate task of designing their own factory.

The main challenge was to build and race a miniature hybrid drag racing car – in a best of five heat format on a 20 metres long track – with only the parts provided. The only difference between the two teams was their choice of secondary motor: one team had a geared bottom electric motor; the other went with the electrolytic cell.

As the finalists got more comfortable with the challenges and their team, front-runners started to emerge. One of those was Gatineau-native Felix Lamy, a mechanical engineering student, currently in his second year at McGill University.

The 21-year-old Lamy showed fire on the first day as his team battled to get ideas across, as well as an unexpected journalist teammate thrown into the mix. On the second day, Lamy showed that same passion with new teammates during the facility design, and during the final prep ahead of the big race.

Other impressive students included Matteo Putt and Rachel Kendall, both mechanical engineering students from McGill University and the University of Manitoba, respectively. Putt and Kendall showed off the range of talent at this competition with the former being only 19-years old and the latter soon to graduate.

It was a tough task for the three judges, but it was Lamy who would an emerge victorious to become the first Infiniti Engineering Academy student from Canada for the career opportunity of a lifetime.

Lamy's team would eventually win the drag race, but that came secondary to his positive contribution and leadership abilities shown throughout the competition. What stood Lamy apart from the rest – a question asked by all of us to each contestant – was his motorsport background working at Exclusive Autosport, as well as his true understanding of what it takes to survive in the world of Formula One.

“I am absolutely ecstatic to land the job I had previously thought was out of reach before learning about the Infiniti Engineering Academy,” said Lamy. “The competition was fierce, the nine other finalists were all very impressive in different ways…I still can’t quite believe it. Working in the United Kingdom with Infiniti and the Renault Sport Formula One team is going to be an amazing experience and I look forward to all of the challenges that come along with it.”

Lamy's next life chapter will begin in October, as his schooling takes a one-year postponement. There's no doubt he will learn a lot on the job, but he will also become an ambassador for Infiniti Canada. The automotive company, along with the Renault Sport Formula One team are committed to this program and are looking for bright Canadian engineers for years to come.

“We are harvesting the best young minds that engineering has to offer and, for us, this is a story we can continue to tell and support as we go beyond,” said Lester.

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