An internship that paved the way to success for a young PETRONAS researcher


Koi (fourth from the left) and fellow interns during his internship with the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One team in 2016.

KOI Zi Kang beamed with pride as he spoke about his internship experience six years ago with the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One (F1) team at Brackley, England, home to the eight-time Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) F1 World Champions.

A PETRONAS Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP) scholar and Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) 2017 Silver Chancellor Award receiver, Koi was selected as an intern for the esteemed annual collaboration programme between PETRONAS and Mercedes to nurture high achieving talents chosen among PESP scholars from UTP.

A fan of F1, Koi spoke fondly as he recalled having the opportunity to experience the post-race briefing by team principal and chief executive officer Toto Wolff and seven-time world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton at the factory, where they discussed particulars of the race, its challenges and ways to improve.

Koi will never forget what Toto said to him and his peers back in 2016, which became his personal motto until today.

“I remember during one of Toto’s visits, he emphasised that we are living in a competitive environment where there is always someone in the opposing team doing the same role as us, trying their best to outperform us. Because of that, we were reminded to never be complacent with our achievements but instead always strive to go beyond,” Koi recalled.

He held on to those words and applied them in his work today as a PETRONAS fluid technology solutions researcher.

“PETRONAS, being a global energy and solutions provider, is faced with countless competitors out there. On top of conducting business as usual, we must progressively innovate in line with evolving technologies to remain competitive for a sustainable future,” he said.

‘For those who are big fans of F1 and interested in pursuing engineering courses or research, this is the golden ticket,’ said Koi.‘For those who are big fans of F1 and interested in pursuing engineering courses or research, this is the golden ticket,’ said Koi.

Koi attributed the programme for enriching his perspective, which opened new doors that led to his career today.

“As a member of the test and development department, I was tasked with conducting testing analysis on certain parts of the car. After each race, car parts will be sent to the factory where I

will conduct testing to inspect for any defects to ensure they are fit to be sent back to the tracks for another race,” he explained.

That opportunity enhanced his technical skill set and paved the way to his current role as a PETRONAS fluid technology solutions researcher.

“Being in the programme not only expanded my knowledge on technology, but also enabled me to learn useful methods and problem-solving skills that I still use today.

“I had the opportunity to work with one of the experts in material science and the research and analytics work broadened my view and enhanced my interest in pursuing my career in the field of research,” said Koi.

On top of technical knowledge, Koi shared that he has gained valuable exposure, life lessons, and friendships that he maintains until today. The supportive team culture, which resonates with the PETRONAS cultural belief of ‘speaking up’, also encouraged him to ask questions and contribute feedback with courage.

“Everybody was given the opportunity to speak up and share ideas on how to improve the performance of the car. Although I was only an intern there, I was actively included and felt strongly that I was part of the team.”

Koi attributed the internship as a catalyst for him to pursue research. Upon completing his undergraduate studies, Koi pursued his master’s degree in chemical engineering. He was later offered his current role as a fluid technology solutions researcher at PETRONAS Research Sdn Bhd (PRSB), where his experience with Mercedes became an added advantage.

“I’m very pleased with how this internship programme has developed and shaped me into someone who is capable of being resilient and adaptive.

“I’ve been working at PETRONAS for about five years now and I’ve come to understand that there are no limits as to how far you can pursue your dreams with the organisation. If there is something you love to do, you have to make it happen through your own efforts,” he added.

Koi highlighted that the internship programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity reserved solely for high achieving UTP students under the PESP programme.

“For those who are big fans of F1 and are interested in pursuing engineering courses or research, this is the golden ticket,” he said.

For more information on PESP and PETRONAS internship opportunity program, visit here.

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