Infiniti has taken a step closer to discovering the world’s next Formula One engineering stars, as the premium automotive brand announced that four American students have made it through to the world finals of the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy.
The finalists will individually compete against eight others from around the world to win the work placement of a lifetime—a 12-month engineering role with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, complete with accommodation in the UK, Infiniti company car and full salary. Out of 1500 international engineering students from over 100 universities, the Americans selected for the final include Alejandro Diaz (22) from Miami, Eric LaRoche (25) from New Jersey, Jason Zide (21) from Los Angeles and Austin Volk (22) from Oregon (full details below).
The next step will be for them to attend a three-day shootout event in the UK before the British Grand Prix, taking place at Infiniti’s European Technical Center at Cranfield and at Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s factory in Milton Keynes. Over the three days they will face a series of intensive interviews, practical tests and technical challenges, closely assessed by leading technical figures from Infiniti and Infiniti Red Bull Racing. The three winners will be unveiled by Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey on July 3.
“We have spent the last few weeks reviewing the applications. The quality of them has been very impressive,” said Andreas Sigl, Global Director, Infiniti Formula One. “It was very encouraging to see such interest from so many young engineers from around the world and we look forward to finding the next big Formula One engineering talent in the final stage of the process.”
Adrian Newey, Chief Technical Officer, Infiniti Red Bull Racing, added: “The Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy is an exciting initiative for young engineering students to become inspired and realize their dream of working in the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One. Judging by the applications submitted, it is great to see so much passion and enthusiasm from our engineers of the future.”
American Finalists - Personal Profiles
Alejandro, 22, from Miami, Florida, studies Science in Mechanical Engineering at Florida International University. He is currently President of the highly regarded Formula SAE series for students and has completed engineering work experience at Fiat Chrysler automobiles.
The American is hugely passionate about all things automotive and has relocated twice to the other side of the country to gain experience with Fiat Chrysler’s performance brand SRT. Alejandro is a keen drifter and would start up his own race shop, building and maintaining personal race cars at his own race circuit if he won the lottery. His racing idol is former Formula One, NASCAR and current INDY diver Juan Pablo Montoya.
Eric, 25, from Hamilton Square, New Jersey, studies Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has a passion for motorsport and aviation and, in addition to participating as lead aerodynamicist with the University of Maryland’s Formula SAE team, has gained experience with Chrysler’s Viper GTS-R team in the American Le Mans Series as well as time working at aviation giant Boeing.
Eric enjoys travel, his most memorable time being a 500km road trip through the French Alps. If he could, Eric would travel the world and invest in his own racing team and would also like to engineer and build race cars for rally, hill climbing and autocross events.
Jason, 21, from Laguna Beach in California, studies Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is Team Captain of a Formula SAE team and is familiar with the Infiniti family having completed work experience with the premium auto brand at its North American Technical Center.
Jason has been a motorsport enthusiast since he was young, making his first visit to the world-famous Laguna Seca circuit at three months old. He helped his father restore and race a 1971 Trans-am Alfa Romeo GTV and is a regular at his local go kart circuit.
If he could, Eric would purchase his own race track, maintain and race cars on it and travel to every Formula One race on the calendar.
Austin, 22, from Oregon, studies Science in Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. He participates with a team in the Formula SAE series as a System Design Engineer and has previously worked at Daimler Trucks as a Design Engineering intern in North America.
Away from engineering, Austin is an avid golfer and tennis player and enjoys wakeboarding, snowboarding and most outdoor activities. Travel is also high on his agenda and has previously spent two weeks back-packing throughout Spain. His favourite actor-comedian is Jim Carrey.