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IUPUI and GreenpowerUSA to bring high schoolers to race electric cars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

June 8, 2016

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in conjunction with IndyCar, the GreenpowerUSA Foundation and the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, is inviting teams of 33 high school students to design, build and race a single-seat, student-driven electric car on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 2017 race festivities. This event will take place during the traditional Community Day activities before the Indy 500.

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The School of Engineering and Technology on the IUPUI campus | Photo By INDIANA UNIVERSITY

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is an official event sponsor. In addition to providing faculty and student support from the motorsports and energy engineering programs within the School of Engineering and Technology, IUPUI has offered discounted housing at its residence halls during the event to help offset costs to the participating schools and associate attendees.

“Given that the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI offers the only B.S. degree in motorsports engineering in the entire USA, and we are one of a few schools in the USA to offer a B.S. degree in energy engineering, we are delighted to support GreenpowerUSA’s commitment to building the STEM pipeline through the excitement of motorsports and alternative energy,” said David J. Russomanno, dean of the school.

The high school teams, selected from participating programs across the United States, will be paired with Verizon IndyCar Series drivers in a competition that challenges young minds. The project requires the teams to design and build a single-seat electric car and then compete in head-to-head races.

The Greenpower Electric Car Challenge is a project-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning initiative for broad levels of education. The Greenpower Challenge, which has been running in the United Kingdom since 1999 and is currently offered in more than 600 schools throughout the U.K., emerged in the United States in 2014 and has expanded most recently to China. This program leverages the excitement of motorsports to enhance teaching and learning of STEM-based subject matter and learning objectives.

"We're delighted anytime we can engage young people here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and this chance to build a car alongside a driver is an especially wonderful opportunity," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. "We value Greenpower's goal of linking education, industry and community through inspirational engineering projects."

"By integrating a project-based learning platform with the obvious excitement driven by motorsport, the Greenpower Challenge provides an innovative scenario for both instructors and students," said Jason Taylor, president of the GreenpowerUSA Foundation. "In addition to gaining exposure to a broad range of STEM-based subject matter, participants will learn to appreciate teamwork, collaboration, specialization and communication, each of these skills being integral attributes of tomorrow's workforce."

"Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a dream come true -- and now, it's a reachable goal for a special group of high school students and STEM educators," said Lisa Noble, Sports Car Club of America president and CEO. "STEM curriculum really is the science of motorsport, and the SCCA is proud of our association with Greenpower as the program grows in the United States. We're excited to do everything we can to make this a special event for these bright, young minds. Along with IndyCar, IUPUI and Greenpower, we want to help put on a fun and safe event that they'll never forget."

The electric car design and build project aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success and building a prosperous and innovative Indiana.

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