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Universities and Formula One share high performance culture

Toro Rosso factory resizedThe glamorous, fast paced world of Formula One may at first glance appear an obvious counterpoint to the more formal, measured domain that typically characterises higher education. But look more closely and many surprising parallels are revealed.

Both share a passion for innovation, both are pushing the boundaries of engineering and business excellence, and both are dedicated to high performance. The University of Nottingham in particular is justifiably proud of its pioneering spirit and transformative qualities, perfectly exemplified through world changing inventions including the MRI scanner or ground-breaking research into contemporary global issues such as modern slavery and food security.

Given this inherent curiosity, thirst for unlocking potential and a strong international profile, The University of Nottingham and Formula One are natural bedfellows. Indeed, several alumni occupy key senior positions at the McLaren Honda and Toro Rosso teams, and Nottingham University Business School graduate Jolyon Palmer is currently driving for Renault in the F1 World Championship.

One case in point is Engineering alumnus James Key (Mechanical Engineering, 1996) who has spent his working life developing innovative technical solutions for a number of Formula One teams including Lotus, Jordan, Sauber, and Force India. He is currently Technical Director with Scuderia Toro Rosso and his achievements in Formula One were recognised last year when he received the University’s prestigious Alumni Laureate Award for Special Excellence.

James and the Toro Rosso team recently hosted a visit from Nottingham business and engineering students at their state-of-the-art factory headquarters in Faenza near Bologna.

Often at the forefront of areas such as marketing, team motivation, sponsorship and project management, the visiting MBA students were keen to understand more about the key business and organisational issues facing a fast-moving and ultra-competitive industry.

Likewise, students from the Faculty of Engineering also had an opportunity to see at first hand some of F1’s renowned cutting edge technologies in materials, manufacturing and aerodynamics. This was particularly poignant as the visiting students are all involved in the University’s electric superbike project. A couple of weeks after the visit to Toro Rosso, the University E-racing team finished on the podium at the Isle of Man in the TT Zero race.

Students at Toro RossoJames Finney, Sales Manager at International Tool Company in Leicester and currently undertaking an Executive MBA at Nottingham said: “Getting to see the inner workings of a Formula One team felt like such an enormous privilege. Seeing first-hand how a company at the forefront of innovation operates left me feeling profoundly inspired, both personally and professionally.”

These sentiments were echoed by Caroline Tynan, Professor of Marketing at Nottingham University Business School: “Chatting with the students on the way home demonstrated just how much they had learned of engineering, continuous innovation, project management and even some useful marketing during the visit. The Toro Rosso management team were amazing hosts, both open and hospitable. We look forward to working with them in the future.”

Following the highly successful visit, future potential areas of cooperation between the University and Toro Rosso are currently being explored including research collaborations; student placements; and mutually beneficial PR and marketing opportunities.

Toro Rosso is no stranger to alliances with higher education institutions. The company has recently become a partner in a new initiative to support engineers of the future. The Motor Vehicle University of Emilia-Romagna (Muner) is a collaboration between the universities of Bologna, Ferrari, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma, with support from prominent motor racing marques based in what is known as Italy's Motor Valley including Lamborghini, Ducati, Ferrari, Maserati, and Toro Rosso. Muner offers two masters courses, both run in English - Advanced Automotive Engineering and Advanced Automotive Electronic Engineering – and is open to students from around the world with a passion for engineering and innovation.

Otello Valenti, HR and Legal Director at Toro Rosso commented: "We are proud to be part of this new project, which actually fits in well with our philosophy. Ours is a company in a state of constant movement, always investing in research and development, as well as technological and organisational innovation. We have always targeted young talent. The Muner project means we can offer up all our team's know-how, making a significant investment in the education of the professionals of tomorrow, working in conjunction with other centres of excellence in the area of motor sport, present in the Emilia Romagna region."

Visit the Toro Rosso website

Posted on Monday 10th July 2017




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