Their Journey So Far: 2015/16 Infiniti Engineering Academy Winners

Media Information – Q&A: 2015/16 Infiniti Engineering Academy Winners

Daniel Sanham (UK):

Q: What was your initial reaction to learning that you had been selected for the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2015/16? 

A: I was overwhelmed. It was such an exciting opportunity and the fact I’d got it was such a great feeling, excited doesn’t do it justice. To get the chance to work with two top brands is fantastic, I couldn’t wait to get started.  

Q: In which Regional Final did you compete at what was the selection process like? 

A: I competed in the European Final, in which competition was very tough.
The selection process at the final was full on, immediately splitting us up into teams for the first task, which was quickly followed by a written exam. Besides the lunch break there was little rest, but whilst tough it was also fun and the day flew over.

Q: What types of projects were you working on at Infiniti? 

A: I’ve worked on various aspects of the new Infiniti Q30, including the testing of the electronic systems and components within the vehicle. I’ve also designed and implemented two test bench systems again to be utilised with various aspects of the Q30.

Alongside this I also spent three weeks in the production plant in Sunderland testing vehicles’ electrical and electronic systems coming through the production line.

Q: How has this helped you develop as an engineer and a person? 

A: Working for such a large organization has been a real eye opener and has taught me a lot about working as an engineer in a large company. Teamwork is key and working for such a large and efficient organization introduces you to so many different cultures and personalities which has enabled me to work better within a team. With such vast resources it has also really honed my management abilities, in terms of accessing these resources, bringing them together and completing certain activities.

Q: You’ve recently started your work placement in Formula One™. What aspects are you enjoying so far? 

A: Every engineer wants work at the pinnacle, the cutting-edge of their field of choice. Working with a Formula One™ car is the pinnacle of motorsport and just being hands-on with the cars has been amazing.

Q: What advice would you give to young engineers applying for this year's Infiniti Engineering Academy? 

A: Apply, don’t sit on it and leave it until a later date, get it in and done, you won’t regret it and don’t believe for one second that you can’t achieve it. If you work hard, have a passion for the industry and perform well in a team, you’ve got as good a chance as anyone.

 

Alex Allmandinger (US):

Q: What was your initial reaction to learning that you had been selected for the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2015/16? 

A: 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 cross-over between the two industries.

Q: In which Regional Final did you compete and what was the selection process like? 

A: The US 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 US Final. Each step was a victory in itself, and I’m just honored they ended up selecting me.

Q: What types of projects were you working on at Infiniti?

A: 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 utilize 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.

Q: How has this helped you develop as an engineer and a person? 

A: 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 its 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.

Q: You’ve recently started your work placement in Formula One™. What aspects are you enjoying so far?

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.

Q: What advice would you give to young engineers applying for this year's Infiniti Engineering Academy? 

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 your dedicated and passionate, there is no reason it can’t be you. It’s really too good of a chance to pass up.

Zitong Zhang (China):

Q: What was your initial reaction to learning that you had been selected for the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2015/16? 

A: My first reaction was surprise and excitement. I knew it was very competitive the year before and the candidates at our regional final are all very talented as well. But when I realised what I’ve been selected for I was very excited indeed. A placement in Formula One™ can mean a lot for someone having spent three years in Formula SAE.

Q: In which Regional Final did you compete at what was the selection process like? 

A: I competed in the Regional Final of China. The selection process is the same with any other regional final. Jerry Hardcastle said he was very impressed with our work ethic since we were all sparing no effort in the group projects. But we had some issue with time management, although many people were checking the watch from time to time. The selection was prolonged because of this and candidates from Shanghai had no time to enjoy the champagne but rush to the airport.

Q: What types of projects were you working on at Infiniti?

A: I’ve been doing aerodynamics and wind noise projects in the past six months. On the wind noise side, I have helped improve the road test procedure and tried to take into account the wind condition while evaluating wind noise performance. On the aerodynamic side, we have done some standard wind tunnel tests but we have also done some research projects such as evaluating aerodynamic performance in a turbulent environment and the effect of wheel geometry on aerodynamics.

Q: How has this helped you develop as an engineer and a person? 

A: As an engineer, I’ve learned to work with people in a big company and in small teams, improved my data-analysis skills and become more familiar with road car aerodynamics. My managers and colleagues are really nice, helpful and interesting. They have had much influence on me and I will try to be as encouraging, patience and kind a person as they are.

Q: You’ve recently started your work placement in Formula One™. What aspects are you enjoying so far?

A: I’ve enjoyed seeing how a Formula One™ team makes decisions in such a special environment, where you have a lot of data to look at yet there’s so little time allowed to think and act. I’m looking forward to seeing this in various phases including design, testing and racing.

Q: What advice would you give to young engineers applying for this year's Infiniti Engineering Academy? 

A: First of all, it could really be you so don’t be deterred. Secondly, it’s really worthwhile to improve your English. It is important that you can communicate well with people of different backgrounds even though you will be dealing with engineers for most of the time.

Muhammad Usman Zafar (Saudi Arabia):

Q: What was your initial reaction to learning that you had been selected for the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2015/16? 

A: I was surprised and delighted on hearing the news. Two months of waiting for the announcement made it even more special for me. It was an opportunity to work with some great engineering talent and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Q: In which Regional Final did you compete at what was the selection process like? 

A: I competed in Saudi Arabian Final. The selection process of the finals was tough yet fun and all the candidates left with smiles. We had a psychometric test followed by a team exercise, an exam and another team activity. The day went by quickly and all we wanted to know at the end was who would be the winner.

Q: What types of projects were you working on at Infiniti?

A: I’ve been working on benchmarking and quality target fit files on the new Nissan Qashqai, CAD data modification on the Infiniti Q30, and various other projects on Q30 and Qashqai.

Q: How has this helped you develop as an engineer and a person? 

A: Working for Infiniti taught me a lot about working at large manufacturing company. Here communicating effectively plays a vital role in finishing projects on time and providing the best possible result. I gained CAD and modelling skills, too.

Q: You’ve recently started your work placement in Formula One™. What aspects are you enjoying so far?

A: Formula One™ is a dream for most engineers as it provides a fast paced and challenging environment, it also brings the latest and high-end technology, and machines, tools and software, which makes it more exciting to work in. It’s early days and there’s a lot to learn, but I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Q: What advice would you give to young engineers applying for this year's Infiniti Engineering Academy? 

A: For young engineers, I would ask them to not hesitate or be afraid of applying for the opportunity, it’s worth the time and effort. If you have passion you can work in a team and keep the team going, you’ll have a chance as good as anyone else to win. This is an opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Andrei Plakhotnichenko (Russia):

Q: What was your initial reaction to learning that you had been selected for the Infiniti Engineering Academy 2015/16? 

A: The Infiniti Engineering Academy is such a great opportunity and to get in was really great. It is an opportunity of lifetime, to jump directly to Formula One™ from university. This news can change your life in one moment. Of course I was overwhelmed – it was a big change: new country, dream new job, and a completely new future.

Q: In which Regional Final did you compete at what was the selection process like? 

A: I competed in the Russian Final. The selection process was complicated and I think it was a good experience for all participants. There were five different activities, and one of my favourites was to design a car plant layout and present it. The last step was a panel interview, and of course a lot of unofficial conversations which is not an official part of selection process but you still have to give a great impression. It was a great combination of stress and fun!

Q: What types of projects were you working on at Infiniti?

A: I have worked mostly on the Nissan Pulsar project, for ride and handling. During this time, I did a lot of simulations, some road evaluations and even produced new simulation tools for predicting the car’s handling properties.

Q: How has this helped you develop as an engineer and a person? 

A: It’s a priceless experience. It has helped me to get a deep understanding of vehicle dynamics testing and the how it is linked with real on-road performance. It has helped me to understand how all the theory work translates to the real world. This is experience you cannot get at university. Also it has improved my managements skill in terms of resources, time and my own skills.

Q: You’ve recently started your work placement in Formula One™. What aspects are you enjoying so far?

A: I’m really enjoying working in Formula One™. So far, it has been the greatest experience of my career. It’s been fascinating to see the difference between how a road car engineering environment compares to a Formula One™ environment. There are differences of course, but also lots of similarities.

Q: What advice would you give to young engineers applying for this year's Infiniti Engineering Academy? 

Don’t wait, just do it. Maybe not all who try can be successful, but no one can be successful if they are not trying. Apply for it and do your best. If you don’t you will regret it. Big journeys always begin with small steps, and your application must be this first step.

ENDS

About Infiniti:

Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. is headquartered in Hong Kong with sales operations in over 50 countries. The Infiniti brand was launched in 1989. Its range of premium automobiles is currently built in manufacturing facilities in Japan, the United States, United Kingdom and China. Infiniti plans to also expand manufacturing into Mexico by 2017.

Infiniti design studios are located in Atsugi-Shi, near Yokohama, London, San Diego and Beijing.

Infiniti is in the middle of a major product offensive. The brand has been widely acclaimed for its iconic design and innovative driver-assistance technologies.

More information about Infiniti and its industry leading technologies can be found at www.infiniti.com. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and see all our latest videos on YouTube.

Contacts:

For Infiniti Global Communications, contact:

Matthew Davis
Director, Infiniti Global Communications
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd., Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3948 0217
Mobile: +852 9542 1711
Email: matthew.davis@infiniti.com

Jon Walsh
Senior Manager, Infiniti Global Communications
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd., Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3948 0129
Mobile: +852 9447 9705
Email: jon.walsh@infiniti.com

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