Purdue partners with 3 IndyCar teams for 2012 season

May 7, 2012

Di Xu, a Purdue graduate student in mechanical engineering, works with Michael Cicciarelli, an engineer with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/2012/xu-drr.jpg.  A Purdue University logo is on the front of a Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car. Dreyer & Reinbold is one of three IndyCar racing teams with which Purdue is partnering.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Purdue University has agreements with three IndyCar racing teams, which will provide opportunities for students and faculty to participate in motorsports while offering the teams help with engineering and technology.

The racing teams are Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport and HVM Racing.

"These partnerships offer a terrific educational opportunity for our students," said James Caruthers, the Reilly Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Caruthers and Danny White, Indy car veteran and Purdue motorsports outreach specialist, are leading the Purdue part of the collaboration.

"I can give an exam and any number of students can get an A. But in a race, there's only one winner. Our students will learn what it takes to compete and survive," Caruthers said.

On the other side, Purdue will offer the racing teams help in addressing engineering and technology needs. The emphasis will be on advanced engineering technologies in aerodynamics, simulation software development, manufacturing and materials.

"Auto racing requires the highest level of engineering and technology of any sport. So it's a perfect fit for Purdue," White said.

The agreements will provide high visibility for Purdue, including having the Purdue logo on the race cars, Caruthers said. "And it will show the world that our students play at a high level."

The agreements also help a major component of Indiana's economy. "Motorsports is a $4 billion-a-year industry in Indiana," Caruthers said. "The first step to convincing a race team to relocate to Indiana is to demonstrate the educational infrastructure is in place to support the industry."

Purdue first partnered with HVM Racing last year. Two Purdue students who did internships with the HVM Racing team were offered jobs, and HVM Racing driver Simona de Silvestro visited campus multiple times to work with students and faculty.

Purdue graduate student Di Xu already has started working with the Dreyer & Reinbold team, where he has a summer internship.

Xu has been working on a software package for suspension system research and development.

"What Di Xu has accomplished in a few short months for us is impressive and far beyond our expectations," said Michael Cicciarelli, a Dreyer & Reinbold suspension engineer.  "We gave him background data and information on the specific application, and a request based on our casual understanding of the associated theoretical considerations. He readily did his own additional background study and produced a software product that was immediately useful for us. 

"Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is extremely pleased with the technical resources Purdue and Xu have provided us so far and are looking forward to a strong future relationship," Cicciarelli said.

One element of the agreements will be developing educational programs that use the excitement of IndyCar racing as the starting point for an introduction to engineering, technology and science.

Purdue will hold the second collegiate evGrandPrix race Saturday (May 12) during opening day of the 2012 IndyCar racing activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

College teams from across the United States and from Europe have designed and built electric-powered go-karts for the 100-lap event, which is part of the speedway's Celebration of Automobiles.

The race, scheduled for 2 p.m., will be run on a track set up in the IMS Hall of Fame Museum lot.         

Writer:  Judith Barra Austin, 765-48=94-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Sources: James Caruthers, 756-494-6625, caruthers@purdue.edu

                  Danny White, 765-496-7748, white66@purdue.edu