The purpose of this blog is to inform those who are interested about my journey as one of three students from around the world who earned placements at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing as a result of the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy. Family, friends, colleagues, aspiring engineers, and any other followers are welcome to visit this page and, if desired, give me feedback or ask questions. It is an effort to streamline documenting the next 12 months for all of these varying audiences, some of which do not participate in social media.

I have never written a journal, never written a blog. This is a first for me. This being the most meaningful and fantastic opportunity I could ever dream of, I would like to share best I can the details of what goes on in my day-to-day during the academy. I am incredibly honored to have won a placement at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing, and I seek to make this opportunity worth everything it possibly can be.

I will write once or twice a week, depending on the accumulation of events and catching up on the previous few days. If you'd like, you can sign up for email notifications for when I create a new post! See the link toward the bottom of this page. I hope you all enjoy, and thank you so much for visiting!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Beer, Cliffs, and Working at IRBR

It’s an incredible feeling when you are actually excited to go to work.  I think it’s then that you realize you’ve found a career that fits your passions perfectly.  Of course, we need distractions too, so life doesn’t become single faceted and you lose yourself in your work.  Come Thursday, a bunch of us from work went to the Concrete Pint Beer Festival.  It really was a bit weird in that it was hosted in what seemed like a union hall, but there were 110+ kegs of amazing local ale and cider.

Kegs on kegs on kegs!

And it was cheap!  The venue was an interesting choice, but the beer and company were great, and so we spent a couple of hours there.  I “sampled” the following:
  • Totty Pot by Cheddar Ales, a dark porter
  • Jack Spaniels by Gun Dog Ales, a blonde ale
  • Fuggle-Dee-Dum by Goddards, a red ale
  • Fendland Farmhouse Saison by Nene Valley, a saison (obviously)
  • Biggus Dickus by Nobby's, a golden ale

More kegs...Gleb, Sam and Will having a very interesting conversation

Yeah those names are all a bit ridiculous.  Nonetheless, the beers were all excellent, especially the porter and the saison.  I’ll have to road trip to some of these breweries over the next year!

Another roadtrip in the Q50!

Speaking of road trips, Christoph joined Jason and I last weekend for a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover.  These weekend trips are getting to be a lot of fun, so I think we’ll keep them up!  The cliffs are amazing.  Ideally, we’d view them from up close as we take a ferry across the English Channel to France, but we were pleasantly surprised at the spectacular views from above.  Thanks to Jason for a lot of these pictures.

The White Cliffs of Dover

We were in the Langdon Bay area.  The sheer size of the cliffs is overwhelming.  It’s also honestly frightening when there’s 50+ mph sustained gusts and you’re near the grassy edge of the cliffs.  Freaks me out.  The seagulls and birds in the area were having a great time, however.  The winds come in from the channel and hit the flat face of the cliffs, forcing the air up and over them which results in the powerful gusts.  This in turn creates an elevator type of airflow that lets the birds essentially open their wings and glide up the faces of the cliffs effortlessly.  They looked like they were on a sort of leisure ride.

There was also the remains of an old a ship hull, which was a really cool treat!

Remains of a shipwreck from 1926

I later found out that the wreck happened in 1926.  It was the SS Falcon, which caught fire.  Interestingly, the cargo that caught fire was hemp and matches.  Surprise…?  There is a path down that zig zags down the cliff to the wreck, but it was closed due to a rock fall in August of last year.  The rock of the cliffs is a very soft chalk.  You can easily scratch sections away with your fingernails…that’s how soft it is, so of course I kept some.

Dover Castle
There was also the Dover Castle, a stunning sight.  We looked into going into the castle, which has some wartime tunnels that were used up through WWII and an underground hospital, but it was a bit too expensive for us.  So guess where we went instead...  A pub!

A local directed us to The Eight Bells pub

Jason and Christoph walking around Dover

We took the roads along the southern coast for a bit, but there really wasn’t much to see and it was getting dark out, so we headed back home.  I was tired and passed out in an interesting position.

I didn't even know my neck could do that...

The rest of the weekend was catch up for me, so nothing exciting there.  I’ve finally started using the gym at the headquarters over the past couple of weeks along with cooking some good meals, so I feel better and am able to focus more at work.  The gym has a lot of great resources that let me do basic versions of CrossFit workouts, which Hope has been helping program for me.  I definitely am looking forward to getting back into better shape!

Bought some new oly lifting kicks!

Fast forward to this latest weekend.  Jason and I decided to make a last second visit to Brands Hatch on Sunday for the Formula Ford festival.  Brands Hatch is in Kent, about an hour and a half southeast of Milton Keynes.  The track is relatively tiny!  Really, I mean the configuration being used (the Indy circuit) is tiny, at just over a mile in length.  There’s another configuration, known as the GP circuit, which doubles the length of the total circuit and adds 3 more turns.  The track is in a natural amphitheater, which makes for some pretty spectacular viewing of the entire course.

Brands Hatch from the main grandstand

Over the years, Brands Hatch has hosted everything from DTM to F1 to Rallycross.   In addition to Formula Ford racing, there were different classes of Ford Fiestas, Sports 2000 race cars, and historic Formula Ford racers.  What’s neat about this kind of racing is that it's the total opposite of F1, in terms of the money and glamour.  There isn't any.  It’s just some dudes, young and old, who want to go racing.  The crowd appears to be comprised mostly of family supporters like you’d get at a recreational sports game in the US.  There was an American racing in the main Formula Ford event, but going for an outside pass in the off-camber Turn 1, he spun out and into the gravel trap and retired from the race.  This was some proper racing, with lots of passing and battles for position right up until the end!  Not a bad way to  spend a Sunday.

Vintage Formula Fords going 'round Turn 1

Enjoying the vintage Formula Ford race

We’re now into our fourth full work week and on our way to making solid contributions to the team!  That feels great. I’m now working on mechanical design enhancements to the simulator as well as modeling.  Jason is working on parts for the differential that, after testing, may potentially end up on the car, which is an exciting prospect.  Among other things, Will has been working on new jigging techniques to allow for more accurate manufacture for complex composite parts.

What’s also an incredible feeling is seeing our names on a part drawing title block with the Infiniti-Red Bull Racing logo on it.  It feels solidified.  And, like I mentioned in my last blog post, it’s really fantastic to interface with the fabricators and see the entire cradle-to-grave process.  It’s a rare opportunity at this early stage to really feel like our pieces of the puzzle do indeed contribute to the grand picture.

Now that I’m caught up, I’ll be taking another break for a week or so, but no doubt there will be some more good stories soon!

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