UMD Alumnus Wins Top Spot in Infiniti's Performance Engineering Academy

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Eric LaRoche (B.S., '14), second from right, secures a 12-month dream job with Infiniti Red Bull Racing.
Photo courtesy of Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

University of Maryland alumnus Eric LaRoche (B.S., '14) wins a place in Infiniti's Performance Engineering Academy and secures the opportunity of a lifetime—a 12-month work placement with Infiniti Red Bull racing. The position will include accommodation in the U.K., an Infiniti company car and full salary.

LaRoche, who studied both Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering with a minor in International Engineering at the University of Maryland (UMD), was one of a dozen finalists selected from over 1500 international applicants to compete in Infiniti's Performance Engineering Academy challenge.

He secured his top spot after competing against fellow finalists during an intense three-day event held in the U.K. at Infiniti's European Technical Center at Cranfield and Infiniti Red Bull Racing's factory in Milton Keynes. The event included series of intensive interviews, practical tests and technical challenges, assessed closely by leading technical figures from Infiniti and Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

According to an Infiniti Red Bull Racing press release, LaRoche said, "This process has been overwhelming, exciting, nerve-wracking and humbling. The other 11 candidates were extremely strong so it's an honor to have made the final three. Hopefully I'll be able to build on this experience when I take on the huge challenge of working in Formula One, and I look forward to being pushed, to learning more and hopefully having some fun along the way."

LaRoche (left) with fellow winners Jason Zide (21, from California, USA) and William Priest (23, and from Exeter, UK).
Photo courtesy of Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

"Eric, William and Jason impressed us all throughout the process, especially given the stiff competition they had from the other candidates," said Andreas Sigl, Global Formula One Director for Infiniti in the organization's press release. "They demonstrated not just a natural aptitude for engineering and an excellent work ethic, but also a real understanding of the benefits Formula One can bring a road car company like Infiniti and the potential for even great technical crossover in the future. We're delighted to have given them the opportunity to realize their dream and will be working closely with them as they settle into their new role."

LaRoche has served as a project team leader and lead aerodynamicist with UMD's Terps Racing Formula SAE team and has worked as both a Motorsports Engineering Intern with Chrysler Street & Racing Technology and a Mechanical and Structural Engineering Intern at Boeing.

As part of his placement with Infiniti, which will start in September of 2014, LaRoche will not only have the opportunity to work with the Red Bull Racing team at their Formula One factory, but he will also spend time at Infiniti's nearby technical center, working closely with Infiniti's road car engineers.

The Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy is a competitive search for top undergraduate engineering students to be the 'next Formula One engineering stars,' and selected students receive a one-year assignment at Infiniti Red Bull Racing, based at Milton Keynes, U.K. The program hopes to encourage engineering as a career choice, and give placement holders invaluable experience working with Infiniti and Infiniti Red Bull Racing engineers.

Published July 7, 2014