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Infiniti announces U.S. finalists for F1 engineering academy

The finalists for the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy have been announced, including four American students who will vie for a scholarship into the Infiniti stables.

The Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy hosts an annual competition to look for new Formula One engineering stars. The global arena has individual hopefuls competing on several levels, beginning with background, automotive knowledge, and more. The field has now been narrowed from over 1,500 entries to only 12 finalists with four of those being Americans.

Three winners will receive placement on the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team as engineering interns, where they will work with the team for 12 months at headquarters in the United Kingdom, all expenses paid. The next step for these 12 finalists is a three-day shootout event in the UK before the upcoming British Grand Prix.

The shootout will happen at Infinit's European Technical Center at Cranfield as well as at Infiniti Red Bull Racing's factory in Milton Keynes. For three days, the individual contestants will face intense interviews, practical testing, and technical challenges. The three winners will emerge from this final shootout and be announced on July 3.

"We have spent the last few weeks reviewing the applications. The quality of them has been very impressive," said Andreas Sigl, Global Director, Infiniti Formula One. Those applicants included over 1,500 students from over 100 universities worldwide.

The four Americans who made it through the cuts include Alejandro Diaz (22) from Miami, Eric Laroche (25) from New Jersey, Jason Zide (21) from Los Angeles, and Austin Volk (22) from Oregon.

Diaz, from Miami, studies Mechanical Engineering at Florida International University and is current president of the Formula SAE series for students there and has interned at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the performance SRT brand. His racing idol is Juan Pablo Montoya, former F1, NASCAR and INDY driver.

LaRoche, from New Jersey, studies Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the lead aerodynamicist with the University of Maryland's Formula SAE team and worked with the Chrysler Viper GTS-R team in American Le Mans and has interned at Boeing.

Zide, from Laguna Beach, California, studies Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is Captain of a Formula SAE team and worked at Infinit's North American Technical Center. Zide and his father restored a 1971 Trans-am Alfa Romeo GTV for racing.

Volk, from Oregon, studies Science and Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. He part of a Formula SAE team and its System Design Engineer. He has interned with Daimler Trucks in North America as well. He is an avid outdoor sports enthusiast as well.

The four are traveling to the UK to meet their eight rivals from around the globe for the final leg of the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy competition.