MONTREAL – Matthew Kemp, a 20-year-old at the university of Calgary, defeated more than 200 other engineering students to win the prestigious Infiniti Engineering Academy (IEA) title for 2019. Kemp will spend a year working in the UK, six months at the Renault F1 Team’s Technical Center in Enstone, and six months at Infiniti’s European Technical Center in Cranfield.
This is the fourth year the IAE program has been conducted in Canada, the sixth for the program globally. Infiniti uses the program to recruit talented engineers. More than half of the previous winners are now employed with Infiniti or the Renault F1 team. Other F1 teams have been known to “poach” young engineers from the Infiniti program.
“At Infiniti, we believe that human talent is the driving force behind technology,” said Tommaso Volpe, director of Global Motorsport & Performance Projects for Infiniti. “The Engineering Academy has been incredibly successful; it has allowed us to discover the best emerging talent around the world. In fact, it is no accident that half of our former winners have secured full-time engineering positions in automotive or in Formula 1.”
The 2018 winner, Chase Pelletier has just finished six months with the Renault F1 team in the Performance Optimization department and will now move a few miles away to the Chassis and Performance Engineering Department at the Infiniti technical center. The 2017 winner, Matthew Crossan, now works full-time with the Renault F1 Team as a Simulation Development Engineer in the team's Vehicle Performance Group in the U.K.
“Attracting top new talent is crucial for success in Formula 1, and the Infiniti Engineering Academy helps us to achieve our goal,” said Cyril Abiteboul, managing director, Renault Sport Racing. “It takes a unique talent to flourish in this industry, and the quality, in-depth selection process employed by the Infiniti Engineering Academy enables us to search for the right people efficiently. Time is the most precious commodity in Formula One, knowing the intensive process our new engineering undergraduates have been through before they reach us is very reassuring.”
The opportunity is open to students still enrolled in an engineering program, including those pursuing a Masters degree. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity attracted 12,000 entries globally this year. Canadian entries were up significantly, with more than 200 applications. That list was narrowed to ten finalists by an international firm specializing in recruiting engineers.
The finalists, representing engineering programs at universities from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, were flown to Montreal for a series of interviews and challenges.
At 20 years of age, Kemp was the youngest of the group. The mechanical engineering students faced an intensive program designed to evaluate both technical and soft skills. Challenges included an engineering exam; intensive one-to-one interviews; a decision-making challenge designed by a Harvard University Professor; and a Formula 1 technical challenge designed by the Renault F1 Team. The final challenge tested communication skills with a Q&A session in the form of a press conference with six Canadian journalists. We were asked to test the ability of the finalists to think on their feet with “out of the box” questions.
In addition to working with engineers at the forefront of the automotive and motorsport industries, Kemp’s prize package includes travel, accommodation, access to a company car and a competitive salary.
“I feel incredible; I have learned so much about myself and what it takes to work in motorsport. Going through all the challenges and finishing on top is amazing,” concluded Kemp. “Being the youngest, I felt like the underdog, but it has been an honour to compete alongside the nine other finalists. I am very thankful for this opportunity provided by Infiniti and the Renault F1 Team, and look forward to starting my placement in the UK.”