The time: Adelaide, March 2012. The event: the 2012 F1 in Schools national finals. The moment: the crowning of the newest professional class national champions, Cold Fusion. A university student stood in the crowd watching proudly as the group of male and female students from Brighton Secondary School became the first South Australians to become national champions. Finn Galindo had every right to be proud – he is a former member of Cold Fusion and competed several times at recent national finals.

Finn’s father is an electrical engineer and because of this Finn says he has always had an interest in engineering and computers. He first saw the F1 in Schools program in year 8 and said it wasn’t long before he had learned to use CATIA CAD/CAM/CAE software – one of the most sophisticated tools in the world of advanced engineering design and analysis.

“I used to help my teacher with software and computer issues in the classroom”.

Finn formed an F1 team with his class mates and he was the design engineer. That year they headed off to the national finals at Canberra – “We were awestruck. We really learned a lot.” The following year the team rebadged itself as Cold Fusion and again found itself at the national finals – this time with a car featuring an “Australia-first” piece of technology: a radical reverse boomerang nose wing.

“You get a lot of satisfaction from giving it your best, pushing yourself to the limit.”

“The F1 competition is so much more than engineering. It involves so many different disciplines. Because of the program I met a lot of people in industry, from places like Mitsubishi and Bosch. I went to the Defence and Industry Conference as part of the REA Foundation display and met the Premier and people from defence companies.”

In 2011 Finn became part of a new team called Azoto Racing and for the fourth year in a row he competed at the national finals, this time in Sydney. By now he had decided on his future direction, “I have always been motivated by helping others. I mentored other students at lunch and recess periods while I was busy working on our car and folio. I like to coach people on how to do it. I want to change peoples’ lives.”

It was no surprise when Finn signed up at UniSA to do a four year design and technology teaching degree, “My degree is specialising in CAD. Once when the teacher was away I took the class. I would like to go back to Brighton Secondary School one day.”

One of Finn’s peers, Danny Clarkson from Azoto Racing, has also had his career choice influenced by the F1 in Schools program. He is pursuing a marine engineering career at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania.