Out of 1,500 applicants from around the world, 12 students have become finalists for the Infiniti Motors Performance Engineering Academy. Four of them are from the United States, and one is a fellow Trojan.
The USC finalist is Jason Zide, a rising senior majoring in mechanical engineering who will be going to the Red Bull Formula One Racing Factory in the United Kingdom in the beginning of July. There, he will take part in an intensive interview process that will last three days.
He will compete against the 11 other finalists for the final prize of a 12-month engineering role with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, complete with accommodations in the UK, an Infiniti car lease and a full salary.
Infiniti Motors describes this initiative as a “search for the world’s best and brightest emerging engineering talent.”
Zide’s journey in becoming a mechanical engineer was one that started at a young age.
“I started going to car races when I was three months old,” Zide said. “When I was growing up, I worked on cars with my dad, and started racing cars when I was eight. Ever since, I have loved cars, so going into mechanical engineering was the natural fit for me.”
Today, Zide is heavily involved in USC Racing, a design team that competes in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers. Every year, the organization designs, builds and tests a race car from scratch.
“Working on the team, and being project manager, has prepared me more than anything,” Zide said.
Additionally, Zide has interned for Nissan Infiniti twice, once in its design studio in La Jolla, California and another time in its technical center in Michigan.
“Both of these experiences were great, especially for this opportunity with the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy,” Zide said. “I was able to familiarize myself with the engineering industry as well as the company itself.”
Currently, Zide is interning with Tesla Motors, where he is working for Chassis Systems. He will be working on projects that consist of design validation, Chassis fatigue and drive train rigidity testing.
“All of these experiences have given me real world experience with engineering,” Zide said.
The aspiring engineer also describes his experience in USC as essential in preparing him for a future in the field.
“The classes introduce a good understanding of the theory,” Zide said. “While my extracurriculars have provided me with real life practical skills. The two combined are important for becoming a well rounded engineer.”
When it comes to his plans for the future, Zide hopes to work for a Formula One team.
“Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsports, which is something I have been deeply involved in my whole life,” Zide said. “I believe the Infiniti Performance Academy is the perfect way to reach my goal.”
If he were to work for Formula One, Zide said that he would be most interested in working in the aerodynamics and the internal combustion engine aspect. Since Renault is the company that takes care of this for Red Bull Racing, it is unlikely Zide could take part in this now.
Even so, Zide says that he is still very interested in working in all aspects of the Red Bull Racing team, whether it would be aerodynamics or simulations.
Zide encourages everyone to work toward a career path in which his or her passions are a main focus.
“If you are genuinely passionate about something, you will want to work harder for it.” Zide said. “A career path that includes someone’s passion is the ideal path.”
Infiniti Motors will announce the winner of the Performance Engineering Academy on July 3.
“If I win, I will be simply astonished,” Zide said. “Working in Formula One has been a dream of mine since I was a child and to get the chance to work with my favorite Formula One team would be a dream come true.”