Red Bull Racing – the Formula One team of Aussie driver Mark Webber – has employed its first young Australian to work in the engineering team with the appointment of former Barker College student Matt Cruickshank.

Like most of the 35,000-plus high school students engaged in the F1inSchools Technology Challenge in Australia, Matt dreamed of one day having a career that involved innovation, technology and engineering. Today, just a few years out of high school, he is a full-time aerodynamics engineer with Red Bull Racing. Thanks to the F1inSchools program.

Matt’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-spec’ manufacturing machines to design, make and race a miniature F1 car as part of the F1inSchools program… the world’s largest high school technology competition with 9,000,000 students competing.

The F1 in Schools program is run by the not-for-profit organisation, Re-Engineering Australia Foundation, which has been inspiring and equipping young people to follow engineering and manufacturing careers for 14 years.

Matt and his peers excelled so much in the competition that they earned the right to represent Australia at the 2008 F1inSchools World Championships in Malaysia. There, his team finished third outright, beating students from more than 20 other nations.

“F1 in Schools bought out the passion I had for motor sport and engineering. 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”, says Matt from their Milton Keynes headquarters in the UK.

“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 F1inSchools helped me with was presentation skills. It gave me practical experience with presenting in public and having interviews, both of which are great skills to have when applying for jobs.”

He adds, “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 of told me a year ago that I would be working in the world championship Formula One team I probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

Matt is one of 550 people who work at Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Technology. He started off in an aerodynamic development team using wind tunnels and since then has moved on to using computational fluid dynamics to analyse the aerodynamics of the cars in a virtual environment. A typical day for Matt 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 F1inSchools, but on a much bigger scale!”

“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 engineering.”

“Re-Engineering Australia Foundation is all about preparing young people for their careers. Our F1 program, which is one of several REA initiatives, makes these innovators of the future very employable”, says Foundation Chairman and Founder Michael Myers, “We have introduced tens of thousands of students to wonderful opportunities in design, engineering, innovation, problem solving and manufacturing and many have gone on to fruitful careers – although Matt is certainly a shining star and an example of the capabilities of young Australian given the opportunity to be their best. We are sure many more will soon follow in Matt’s footsteps of success.”