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A dream realised - from F1 in Schools to Red Bull Racing 16 Jun 2011

Matt Cruickshank alongside Red Bull's trophy cabinet Matt Cruickshank with his F1 in Schools team at the 2008 world finals Matt Cruickshank with Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 leads Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 12 June 2011 F1 in Schools World Finals, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 22 September 2010. © F1 in Schools Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 12 June 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 12 June 2011 The starting lights. F1 in Schools World Championships 2009, London, England, 17 September 2009. © Ebrey/ F1 in Schools

“I wouldn’t have got this far without F1 in Schools,” says Matt Cruickshank, a 20 year-old student from Sydney, Australia, who has realised his ambition to work in Formula One racing. “My experience in the programme led me to secure a work placement at Red Bull Racing and I’m having the most amazing year with this world championship-winning team.”

As an F1 in Schools ‘graduate’ Cruickshank is undertaking a year-long industrial placement with Red Bull Racing and credits the programme for giving him the skill set he needed to apply for and win a position with a Formula One team.

Cruickshank’s journey began while he was at Barker College in Sydney. He was part of a student team which used space-age engineering software and industry-specification manufacturing machines to design, make and race a miniature F1 car of the future as part of the F1 in Schools programme.

Cruickshank and his peers excelled so much in the competition that they earned the right to represent Australia at the 2008 F1 in Schools World Finals in Malaysia. There his team finished third outright, beating students from more than 20 other nations, and also picked up the best-engineered car award.

“F1 in Schools brought out the passion I had for motor sport and engineering," he explained from Red Bull Racing’s Milton Keynes headquarters. "It also gave me a unique insight into F1 and taught me a lot about the industry which was vital when I applied for this job.

“F1 in Schools taught me general engineering skills, how to solve problems and showed me various ways to interpret rules and regulations and thinking outside the box. It also taught me a lot about how to work as a team to achieve goals which is important when working in industry. One of the most important areas F1 in Schools helped me with was presentation skills. It gave me practical experience with presenting in public and having interviews, both of which are key skills to have when applying for jobs.

"When I was at school I always wanted to work in F1 but ultimately I saw it as a long term goal. I certainly never imagined working in F1 in my second year of university, let alone in one of the best teams in the paddock. It all came about in a very short period of time. If you had told me a year ago that I would be working for the world champions of Formula One I probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

At Red Bull Racing Cruickshank started off in an aerodynamic development team using wind tunnels and has since moved on to the CFD department, using computational fluid dynamics to analyse the aerodynamics of the cars in a virtual environment. A typical day for Cruickshank is spent simulating airflow over the race car using super computers, analysing the results and working with the aerodynamicists.

“Fundamentally this is the same as the work the students do in F1 in Schools, but on a much bigger scale!” he explained. “No day is ever the same. I work with a wide variety of people, mainly with aerodynamicists who design and scheme the part, and also the surfacing team and model designers who work with CAD to manufacture the parts. The work can be challenging but is also very rewarding. I have learned an amazing amount so far and continue to learn more each day.

“I thought I learnt a lot about engineering at university but the last six months have been unbelievable - from basic engineering skills to teamwork, everything I have learnt has been invaluable. I am very thankful to Red Bull Racing for giving me the opportunity to learn so much and get a unique view into Formula One and high performance engineering.”

The F1 in Schools programme certainly gave Cruickshank the foundation for starting a career in Formula One racing. Red Bull Racing chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, is a Patron of F1 in Schools and commented: "This programme is all-encompassing and doesn’t just focus on the racing aspect of motorsport. The challenges of working as a team, designing, engineering analysis, manufacturing, testing, marketing as well as budgeting are all tested in F1 in Schools. Matt has proved the value of participating in F1 in Schools and I hope that the programme will continue to bring more students into professional motorsport.”

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman, F1 in Schools, added: “As the F1 in Schools programme develops and entrenches itself within industry and schools, we are seeing more and more students benefit from taking part. Our ‘graduates’ have used the experience to direct their careers down a particular path, to win university places, to secure placements such as Matt has done and ultimately, to achieve their ambitions. I am sure we will see more students entering motorsport engineering and, in particular, Formula One, as a result of their participation in F1 in Schools, across the globe.”

F1 in Schools is the only global multi-disciplinary challenge for students aged 9 to 19. The competition inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacturing, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership, teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative and exciting way.

For further information on F1 in Schools visit www.F1inSchools.com.