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, 26 May 2015

Tips to Launch a Career as an Engineer in Motorsport

For this post, I’d like to take the opportunity to reach out and put forth my advice for aspiring engineers, especially those seeking to get into motorsport. 
The price of winning is always the reduction, if not the elimination of playtime.  However, since racing is basically playing any way you want to look at it (real people make their livings by doing something that they hate), we can't bitch too much. 
Carroll Smith

I will let you know now that this post is absolutely massive.  I worked on this for over two months, and it’s quite detailed.  It is also far from perfect.  I’ve organized my thoughts into fifteen sections that I feel are most pertinent.  Ideas do naturally overlap the sections of course.
  1. Drive
  2. In it for the Money or for the Passion?
  3. Go Beyond the Classroom
  4. Focus on Fundamentals
  5. Fail Successfully
  6. Communicate Effectively
  7. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
  8. Ask Questions
  9. Get Organized, Manage Time, and Keep Documentation
  10. Fabricate
  11. Lead, Follow, Teach, Collaborate
  12. Know What You Don't Know
  13. Create Your Own Opportunity
  14. Consider the Long Term Big Picture
  15. Have a Life!
Although my experience of how I’ve gone through getting a dream career off of the ground is not at all the only way to do so, I do feel that my advice can help others.  I do not claim that what I say in the following words are empirical truths; they simply reflect my experience and how I got to where I am today, and I’m certainly still working on a lot of them.  I’m sure there will be some of you who have experienced the opposite and others who plain disagree.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Academy in Monaco

Ahead of one of the most prestigious races on the calendar, I thought I'd send out a quick post!  It's been a while, and I've been working hard on a long post about my recommendations for becoming a successful engineer in motorsport.  Look for that to publish tomorrow!  For now, be on the lookout for some cool things coming out of Monaco.

First, the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy branding is on the car in Monaco!  Check it out, pretty neat.

Fellow IPEA winner Jason Zide is also trackside in Monaco to talk about some of his experiences with the Academy.  It's safe to say he's probably enjoying the experience.  See if you can catch a glimpse of him at the Energy Station!

Don't forget the academy applications close this coming Wednesday, May 27!

See more and apply here: http://academy.infiniti.com/

Also, we've had a few new videos come out!

A Day in the Life of an IPEA Winner:

The Opportunity of a Lifetime:

Daniel Ricciardo Talks Engineering Academy:

Monaco is one of the most anticipated and prestigious races on the calendar.  Set on the backdrop of the spectacular Côte d'Azur (French Riviera) and immense wealth, the beauty of the principality of

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Testing and the Leadup to Melbourne

So let’s get back to talking about F1, shall we?

Years ago, testing of F1 cars was able to be conducted at will and throughout the season at locations of the team’s choosing.   In 2008, in an effort to control the ever-apparent issue of costs, the Formula One governing body set regulations that limited constructors to 30,000km of testing per season (the equivalent of nearly 6,500 laps of Circuit de Catalunya, or 150 hours of constant testing at an average race pace).  Then in 2009, this was cut in half to 15,000km, with in-season testing banned.  Long gone are the days of pick-your-own-circuit shake downs and test running.

Circuito de Jerez in Spain, site of the first preseason F1 test in 2015

Nowadays, in preparation for the season, there are three test sessions with two more later in the season following the Spanish and Austrian Grands Prix.  All are controlled by the FIA.  The first of the three pre-season tests was held at Jerez in Spain this year, and the following two tests are held in Barcelona at Circuit de Catalunya. Each team’s drivers are generally allowed to test drive for two days of the four days for each of the preseason tests.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, site of the second and third preseason F1 tests of 2015
Last year in testing, the RB10 didn’t fare very well, along with cars from other teams as they struggled to get the new V6 turbo engines to be both powerful and reliable.  The RB10 would pretty much set itself ablaze at will, and we completed only roughly 1060 miles, compared to Mercedes’ 3090 or Williams’ 3040.  Given that start to RB10, the car ended up rather successful, being the only team to beat Mercedes in 2014.

So, you can take certain things away from testing as clear indicators, and there’s other things to take with a grain of salt.   Lap times are one of those things to take as the latter, especially in the earlier tests.  Remember, it’s a shake down and validation for all teams.  Thus, a majority of the testing is not run at full race pace.  Nor are they all running on the same tires!  Reliability, aero mapping, tire testing, pit practice, driver ergonomics, and various simulation validation runs are a few of the myriad of bullet items for testing.  Race simulations, which come later in the preseason testing, along with some of the faster times, are certainly important factors to consider.

This year, I’m on the inside.  Seeing what it takes to produce a car and push design to the absolute limit is nothing short of incredible.

Preseason testing is like an awakening.  Rumors for who will drive for which team have long died out, and teams have been working tirelessly to get their cars to the track.  It is a show, an emergence of the latest and greatest from each team.  The reveals for the vehicles draw as much attention as anything during the season, and the liveries are unveiled.  And boy, did we have an amazing one in store for testing.

Camo Bull!
This dazzle livery, dubbed Camo Bull, was an amazing take on what has become popular for road car

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Work Hard, Play Hard

Greetings from Abu Dhabi!  (Well sort of.  I wrote this and meant to post earlier!)  I arrived here Sunday and have been granted an incredible opportunity to work with our junior driver development in GP2, one of the main feeder series for Formula 1.  I’ll be spending a total of three full days at the Yas Marina Circuit here, performing and helping to manage some preseason testing and data analysis.  The challenges of testing and attempting to prove myself trackside have been a lot of fun so far!

Beautiful Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE

To reiterate from my last post for those of you who weren’t really part of the application audience, I’ve really enjoyed my tasking at Infiniti Red Bull Racing thus far. The past two months have been exceptionally engaging. I’ve never had such an awesome blend of challenging and fun projects. In addition to working on some nice open-ended mechanical design, I’ve been able to work with aerodynamic map data and aero test planning, test virtual components on the simulator, characterize suspension geometry and perform simple kinematic analysis, create a new vehicle model for simulation, and participate in the support of the race engineering and strategy teams. I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of work and the challenges that have come with it. There is so much to learn!

Red Bull F1 Simulator

Adrian showed up for some of our simulator running.  The honor of working alongside the legend is indescribable.  We were able to interact and converse for a bit, and getting to know him, he’s a really nice guy.  So to sum up, these past couple of months have been spectacular!

The lead up to the first test was a very busy time at the factory, to put it mildly.  This has meant some long hours at the office for everybody and some people even eating all three meals there.  But we’ll have to wait on this…more on the F1 side in my next post.

Even with enjoying the work, long hours are long hours.  In the spirit of “work hard, play hard,” this

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Welcome to the 2015 IPEA

If you asked me a year ago where I’d be today, there’s no way I would have even thought to suggest living in the United Kingdom and working in Formula One.


When I found out about the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy late last March, I knew I had to apply.  It seemed like a perfect fit: a unique and high profile program allowing a full year of experience in Formula One and highlighting the technical and people exchange between road cars and race cars.  Despite my enthusiasm and confidence in my abilities, I never thought I’d get past the first stage, let alone win.  But this was my shot, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make something of myself and my passions.  I’m glad I didn’t let the opportunity pass me by, as it seems to have worked out quite brilliantly.  Mental!

Meeting the legend.
I’ve really enjoyed my tasking at Infiniti Red Bull Racing thus far.  The past two months have been exceptionally engaging.  I’ve never had such an awesome blend of challenging and fun projects.  In addition to working on some nice open-ended mechanical design, I’ve been able to work with aerodynamic map data and aero test planning, test virtual components on the simulator, characterize suspension geometry and perform simple kinematic analysis, create a new vehicle model for simulation, and participate in the support of the race engineering and strategy teams.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of work and the challenges that have come with it.  There is so much to learn!

Being a part of this prestigious culture is pure excitement and thrill.  Above all, it is a huge honor to work alongside incredible talent and to truly feel like part of the team.

With the launch of the academy this year, I feel it to be my duty to encourage anybody who has a passion for motorsports, for automotive technology, and for being pushed to the absolute limit to apply to the academy.

This year features new opportunities, given the groundwork laid over the last year.  The successful candidates will not only work at the Infiniti Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes, but they will also spend four months at Infiniti in Cranfield connecting the dots between road and track.  Five candidates will be chosen this year!

The highlight of the application this year is a 90-second video answering: “Why do you deserve this opportunity of a lifetime?”

My advice for applicants is to be yourself, and take your time in making a quality video in terms of its content.  This is your chance to really show who you are.  You have the floor for a minute and a half to tell some of the best engineers in the world why you deserve to be here.  Answering a “why” question isn’t easy.  Beyond what you bring to the table, what do you hope to learn?  Why do you want to learn it here?  What is your ambition, and how does this opportunity speak to that?

These are only my personal suggestions.  See more at the application site.  How you answer is completely up to you, but however you do it, make it count!  The application window closes on May 22.

There’s a lot more to being successful in this competition than your knowledge or maybe that you’ve worked in a Formula Student team.  So in an upcoming post, I will advise and provide suggestions for how to become a successful engineer, whether that be in the motorsport/automotive industries or elsewhere, based on my own experiences and understandings.  Keep an eye out or subscribe to the blog!

Also, I’d like to take the opportunity to answer questions in a future blog post.  I’m more than happy to help out as I feel appropriate!  So do not hesitate to leave your questions or feedback in a comment below.
On behalf of Jason, Will, and myself, good luck to all applicants!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

New Years Road Trip to the Continent!

Back in Milton Keynes with all of my precious gifts and American beer intact, the first thing I had to do after work on Monday was hang up this beauty.

This was another gift from my parents.  It’s funny, the things you want when you move abroad!  Your move, Will.  I expect a Union Jack to be painted on the ceiling or something.

I worked on Tuesday as well, and then Hope flew in on Wednesday morning!  We decided to spend New Year’s together and to finally get some proper traveling in.  After recovering from the flight in, we exchanged gifts.  Mostly we gave each other some food and clothing items, little luxuries, deciding that more money should go to traveling.  To me, nothing beats the experiences you gain from traveling.  After gifts, we went out to London late to watch the fireworks from Primrose Hill.  We made it with six minutes to spare!

Amazing firework display in London, viewed with a fun crowd from Primrose Hill

No Place Like Home

Well, it’s been a while!  I got caught up in the holiday and took some time off, being a bit lazy at getting back to this.  I suppose you could call it the off-season for my writing.  But it’s definitely been an exciting time as of late!

Jumping back for a moment to the week of Christmas, I flew home to be with my family for a week.  I've really missed them.  Being abroad can be hard like that, especially because I hadn’t expected to see most of my family for at least a year.  As I begin to pay back student loans and put money into savings, I don’t have the extra cash to fly back to the United States, even for Christmas.  So, Santa was very generous to gift that!

Jason was also nice enough to drop me off at Milton Keynes Central in the wee morning hours on Sunday, and I took the train to the Tube to the airport.  When I got to Heathrow, it was mayhem.  Since the luggage conveyors were not working, everything had to be handled manually (aka slowly), causing the line to stack up throughout the departures terminal.  Despite getting there a few hours early, passengers for my flight and other earlier US Airways flights had to be escorted to the front of the line to get luggage checked in on time and make the planes.  Though uncertain and somewhat stressful, I did make my flight.

Dad waiting at arrivals in Philly

When I arrived in Philadelphia many hours later, my first news was that my luggage, containing all of my gifts for my family, was left behind in London.  Same story with at least 30 more passengers.  My parents waited for me at arrivals, and we shared some warm embraces.  To continue the happiness, we went straight to the luggage claims office and waited in line for about an hour to give details on where to deliver my luggage.  I was estimated to receive the luggage by the next day (Monday) or Tuesday.  Luckily, I had all of the really important stuff I needed for the next few days with me, so this wasn’t as troubling as it could have been.  Finally we went home, and my mom cooked a really nice meal of chicken marsala while we caught up.  It felt great to be home!