INDIANAPOLIS (May 17) – Passion, determination, and focus were the overarching points delivered by Indy Car racers and Honda Performance Development engineers during the Honda STEAM Connections Tour in conjunction with Purdue’s University’s M-STEM3 500 Student Fair at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Honda STEAM Connections Tour showcases the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) that are the underpinnings of motorsports and the automotive industry.
Former Indy car driver Lyn St. James joined Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Pippa Mann and Zach Veach and HPD engineers Hiro Yamaguchi and Tasher Willett in addressing more than 1,000 Indiana middle school and high school students at the two-day event.
The student fair also provided students opportunities to have hands-on experiences with exhibits ranging from a driving simulator to welding simulations, 3D printing and DNA extraction from strawberries along with interaction with representatives of area technical schools.
St. James, one of nine women to take the green flag in the 102-year history of the Indianapolis 500, stressed the importance of STEAM curriculum in pursuing fields of study and careers. By 2025, more than 80 percent of jobs in the United States will be STEAM-related. Additionally, women comprise half of U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29 percent of science and engineering workforce.
“Not only are STEAM principles really important (in racing), what is really important is how you can apply them to your life,” said St. James, whose racing resume also includes victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Added Mann, who will compete in her seventh Indianapolis 500: “Work hard and have determination to achieve your goals. That is the key.”
In addition to the experience, teachers from the schools were directed to a two-week curriculum focusing on the STEAM behind motorsports with an emphasis on chassis, data analysis, engine, fuel, nutrition and tires. The curriculum was written by renowned STEM educator Dr. Laura Bottomley of N.C. State’s The Engineering Place and provided via grant from the TechForce Foundation.
The Honda STEAM Connections Tour of universities across the nation is organized and managed by STEAM Sports Group.
The next STEAM Connections Tour event is in October in conjunction with Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, South Carolina.