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May 21, 2013

Purdue, Dallara, IMS partner for STEM program

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An educational partnership among Purdue University, engineering company Dallara, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and two Indianapolis-area school systems will use IndyCar racing to engage students in the STEM disciplines - science, technology, engineering and math.

The initial focus of the Motorsports-STEM program will be developing a middle school curriculum, which eventually can be expanded to upper elementary and high school classes.

Jim Caruthers, Purdue's Reilly Professor of Chemical Engineering, leads the M-STEM program.

"This is an awesome opportunity to connect the excitement of IndyCar racing – one of the highest profile sporting events in the world – with giving our children the skills they need to be successful in the ultracompetitive 21st century global economy," Caruthers said.

Dallara is dedicating part of its Speedway facility for the program, which will feature museum-quality, hands-on science experiments that show the connection between IndyCar components and basic science and math concepts. 

"We are excited about this partnership where the advanced engineering that we build into IndyCars can help educate the next generation of engineers and scientists," said Stefano Deponti, general manager of Dallara LLC.

As the M-STEM program grows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host events to celebrate the achievements of students in the program.

"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway believes that the M-STEM program is a great way to engage our young people to pursue the science, technology and math skills they will need for the future while exposing them to the excitement of IndyCar racing," said Jarrod Krisiloff, IMS vice president of marketing.

The school districts initially involved in M-STEM are Metropolitan School District of Decatur and Speedway Schools. 

"A unique aspect of the Purdue-Dallara-IMS partnership is that our teachers are actively involved in the design of the M-STEM curriculum, which will ensure that it meets the needs of our students," said Nate Davis, Decatur superintendent.

John Dizney, principal of Speedway Junior High School, said, "As the school district with the Indianapolis 500 in our backyard, we are pleased to take a leadership role in developing what will be an exciting program to actively engage our students in the science and math they need for future success."

The plan for the M-STEM partnership is to first develop the curriculum at Decatur and Speedway schools, then expand it first to Indianapolis-area schools and then across the state.

Caruthers said an important component of the program is community involvement.

"A key feature of the M-STEM program is that it involves the motorsports community, the local school districts and the local business community," he said. "It is this type of local buy-in that will enable the M-STEM program to sustain." 

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Sources: James Caruthers, 765-494-6625, caruther@purdue.edu

Stefano Deponti, s.deponti@dallara.us

Jarrod Krisiloff, jkrisiloff@brickyard.com 

Note to Journalists: An event to launch the M-STEM program will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (May 22) at the Dallara facility at 1201 Main St. in Speedway.