Dallara Magazine - page 10

How and when did your
collaboration come into
being? What convinced
you to team up with the
Italian company?
It all started in 2010,
with a protocol of
intentions that formed
the basis of the
agreement signed in
2012. The collaboration
with Dallara was the
natural consequence of
a meeting of minds
between the best
Engineering University in the State of Indiana
and the leading race car designer in the
world. The collaboration developed thanks to
the fact that Danny White, the director of
Motorsports at Purdue University, was a
member of Eddie Cheever’s victorious team at
the 1998 Indianapolis 500. That was
Dallara’s first time at the Indy 500, and it
was the great friendship with Engineer
Dallara that brought him to the campus and
cemented the relationship between the two
organisations. It was this meeting that gave
rise to Purdue University’s M-STEM project, an
initiative designed to get young people
interested in Motorsports by introducing the
technology and excitement of motor racing
into the K-12 curriculum, at the same level as
our Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics (STEM) courses".
Can you tell us a little more about the aims
and characteristics of the M-STEM project?
“The aim is attract young students towards
the STEM subjects during a critical stage in
their education (middle school) by using the
“cool” appeal of exposed wheel racing. M-
STEM has been designed to encourage them
to take up two important challenges. First of
all, since the baby boomers are now nearing
pensionable age, it’s time we got the younger
generation involved in the fantastic world of
motorsports. Secondly, the manufacturing
and medical industries are going through a
difficult period and are crying out for skilled
young talent to take the place of the above
mentioned baby boomers. M-STEM deals with
these two challenges 1) by introducing
exposed wheel racing into the K-12
curriculum through advanced educational
and practical
projects and 2) by
making use of the
high level
teaching facilities
on offer at the
Dallara factory,
where the students
can get a close
look at the
involved in a
racing car. And
hence 3) by permitting the students to design
their own magnetic cars and electric go-karts,
and race them on the Motor Speedway. These
are activities that appeal to youngsters and
help to get them interested in the STEM
disciplines, while also teaching them how to
producing things by hand - and all thanks to
the "cool" effect of the IndyCar series. To
quote Mitch Daniels, ex-governor of Indiana
and current president of Purdue University,
“combining Motorsports with STEM studies is
a simple but highly effective idea”
Who decides the structure of the courses
and what sort of qualifications the teachers
should have?
“The teachers at the K-12 school form an
integral part of the team that studies the
curricula and decides on the courses,
provided they are aware of which STEM
subjects are covered and how to interact with
students of differing age groups. The K-12
teachers are responsible for setting the targets
for the various M-STEM projects. Purdue
University and its industrial partners provide
the support for the educational and technical
development. The University also carries out
objective evaluations of the M-STEM in order
to establish which parts of the project are
functioning as intended, and which require
further development. It’s fair to say that
Purdue has staked a part of its reputation on
this program, and it has been necessary to
create a new role in the Human Resources
department, with responsibility for the M-
Stem project. As far as the training aspect is
concerned, the teaching staff includes
personnel from a variety of backgrounds,
especially engineering and education
What type of student are your courses
designed for, and what opportunities do
you offer them once they have completed
their studies? Would you define it as a
project that is capable of combining the
business world with the primary and
secondary education sectors?
«The M-STEM project is intended all types of
students, both male and female, and
irrespective of their studies: 1) students from
the engneering/scientific sector, 2) young
people who are studying to become
technicians, and 3) students who are
interested in the world of marketing and
business. For example, we are currently
working on the design for an electric go-kart
that can be constructed by junior high
schools.The project includes 1) the
mathematics applied to the science and
engineering areas that cover the various
components of the go-kart, 2) the practical
aspects of the technologies that go into the
construction of the go-kart, 3) a business
and marketing plan designed to raise part of
the financial cost of the product from local
businesses, 4) marketing strategies designed
to make the go-kart built by the school into
a viable commercial proposition; and lastly
5) a project management plan that will
enable the students to complete the project
on time and within the pre-established
budget. A similar project has been designed
for middle schools for a car running on
magnetic energy. At the moment I can
affirm that both vehicles will be
participating in a race meeting next may at
the Motor Speedway in Indianapolis,
featuring teams from various different
schools. There are various connections
between all these elements: college students,
"evGrandPrix" racing kart featuring high
power batteries; rapid consumption electric
go-karts for high schools; magnetic energy
vehicles for middle schools and small,
driverless magnetic vehicles in wood and
plastic for primary schools.
The aim is that each group inspires and
encourages the younger group. Finally, all
these projects feature an important
educational element, so that victory does
not only depend on the performance
during the race, but also on the technology
and scientific know-how that have
gone into project».
Purdue University
Jim Caruthers
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