Engineering Student Puts Graduation on Hold for Something Even Better
Mark Atwater posted on May 18, 2015 |

Many engineering students are wholly focused on graduation heading into their senior year. The prospect of real money and no homework is certainly tempting, even for those planning to go on to grad school (where neither of those conditions exists!). So what made USC mechanical engineering student, Jason Zide, put his graduation on hold? Experience.

According to a USC Viterbi School of Engineering news article, Zide got the opportunity to take part in an immersive year-long internship doing what he loves. He’s helping design race cars for the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Formula One team, whose headquarters are based in England. 

During the eight months of the internship he’s completed so far, he has designed over 80 parts as a member of the transmission design team, and he has completed more than 300 parts including those for test rigs. The parts he’s working on are for the Infiniti Red Bull car that will compete in the 2015 Formula One season.

This opportunity wasn’t something that fell into his lap. He had to work for it. The selection process for the inaugural Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy was demanding. Out of 1500 students that applied from around the world, he is one of five that were selected, and he is the only student from the US given the honor. The process involved a Skype interview, regional competition and a three-day event involving interviews, practical tests and technical challenges.

Whether he realized it or not, he’d been preparing for this all of his life. His father is a racing enthusiast who restores and races vintage cars (Alfa Romeos particularly). Zide has experience outside of that, too. He has also completed summer internships at Infiniti's North American Technical Center and Tesla Motors. And by the way, he has been part of USC’s Formula SAE team since he was a freshman and currently acts as project manager for the team, even from afar.

Zide expected this type of opportunity to be the culmination of graduation and years of on-the-job experience, so when it came to the question of whether delaying graduation would be worth it, the answer was clearly, “yes.” This internship, as well as his previous ones, are excellent opportunities to learn real-world engineering skills and build a winning resume. If the only point of education is to make more money, something very critical has been lost. Fortunately, Zide wasn’t so focused on the end that he missed the beginning of something even more important, an enjoyable and rewarding career.

 The video below gives more information on the internship.

Image: Infiniti Racing

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