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Student wins award for work with F1 champion.

An IMechE affiliate member involved with her university's Formula Student team has won a prize for organising a visit by the Formula One world champion to Nissan's centre of excellence for vehicle design and development in Cranfield.

Gemma Hatton has become the first University of Bath placement student to receive a Nissan Gold Award for the visit by Sebastian Vettel to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE).

Gemma, who is in her final year at Bath and a data engineer for the university's Formula Student team, was undertaking her year in industry as part of her degree course when she was approached by the global technical director of Nissan Motorsport, Jerry Hardcastle, and was given the task of organising Vettel's visit.

She said: "Sebastian Vettel is the director of performance for US car company Infiniti, where he plays a vital role in developing its vehicles. Vettel's focus for Infiniti was on the Q30.

"As Infiniti progresses into the European market, the Q30 will be built at the Nissan manufacturing plant in Sunderland, with NTCE conducting further research and development the first collaboration between the two automotive giants.

"I was given the job of not only showing Sebastian what NTCE had to offer, but also making it as interactive and interesting as possible, because the whole visit was being filmed."

Gemma has been a fan of motorsport since childhood, and has always seen her future working as a race engineer. Her passion for motorsport has led her to take on several jobs in the sector. A regular contributor to Racecar Engineering, she wrote the magazine's Formula Student feature last year.

She also monitored track data for JRM during the Spa 24 Hour and Silverstone three-hour races. Her involvement in these motorsport events confirmed her determination to pursue a career as a race engineer.

Giving a sense of the scale of the project she undertook, Gemma said: "With the visit timed to the minute, it was a logistical challenge, especially as I was in charge of every detail--from importing Infiniti cars from all over Europe for background shots to ensuring health and safety regulations were met while maintaining the confidentiality of the latest Qashqai--Nissan's new crossover car.

"I spent weeks chairing meetings with senior management from all departments, and was then asked to present to the European board of directors."

She added: "Through my work, I am used to analysing car performances on the track and road, going through data with drivers, briefing them and helping in the pit lane. This role at Nissan put me in front of global directors of both Nissan and Infiniti."

The Nissan board of directors was so impressed by Gemma's effort that they awarded her the coveted Nissan Gold Award, which is usually presented only to company staff, and for high levels of attainment.

Gemma said: "I was thrilled that the directors were so pleased with my work. I enjoyed the project, and working with Nissan has opened doors and created great contacts for me in motorsport.

"Meeting Sebastian Vettel was fantastic. All I'd really wanted was a photo and a signed hat for my little brother--the Gold Award was the icing on the cake."

To find out more about Formula Student, please go to the website:

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Title Annotation:INSTITUTION NEWS: What's happening at the IMechE
Publication:Professional Engineering Magazine
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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