Mazda TUDOR Championship driver Joel Miller, who holds a college degree in engineering, speaks to high school students in Florida about science, tech, engineering and math studies.

Encouraging Education Through Motorsports

A few days before the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring weekend, in which not only did the two SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D Prototypes compete, but also featured the opening rounds of the Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich and the Cooper Tires IMSA Lites Powered by Mazda, more than 300 students at nearby Tampa’s Middleton High School participated in Mazda’s R.A.C.E. program. The program, Racing Accelerates Creative Education (R.A.C.E), is designed to encourage the nation’s middle- and high-school students to consider studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Mazda developed the R.A.C.E. educational program to demonstrate some of the many exciting real world science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) applications used throughout the automobile industry. The curriculum of this turnkey, interactive learning forum was also designed to motivate and engage the next generation of STEM superstars.

Donning a full race suit, Kim Moore, Assistant Principal for Magnet Curriculum at Middleton High School, said, “The students were thrilled with the presentations and impressed by the number and diversity of STEM-related career opportunities in the field of motorsports. I’m confident that after seeing Mazda’s R.A.C.E. program, many students left with an even greater respect and enthusiasm for the STEM disciplines.”

Mazda is focusing on middle- and high-school students for their R.A.C.E. program as they are armed with enough learning to be able to explore the STEM potential around them. Cars are the most technologically sophisticated products owned by the average consumer and there are numerous applications within the STEM arena. According to a new study by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich., the integration of technology into the motor vehicle is creating an unprecedented demand for workers with high-tech skills, making this one of the most exciting industries in which to be employed.

“STEM initiatives provide opportunities for students to be creative, imaginative, and innovative,” said Larry Plank, Director for K-12 STEM Education from Hillsborough County Public Schools. “They learn to solve real-life problems and through the process, are driven and inspired to learn and do more. The Mazda Motorsports R.A.C.E. program creates an exemplary experience from a STEM perspective, while helping the students understand the many career paths they have for a happy, productive future.”

John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports, added, “We are convinced that our R.A.C.E. program will demonstrate in an interesting, fun and engaging way how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are central to the success of Mazda on the racetrack and in the marketplace. More important, by showing them examples of how exciting problem solving can be in the STEM arena, we believe students will be even more motivated to always be curious and open minded.”

The company’s racing arm, Mazda Motorsports, is taking the lead with the R.A.C.E. program. The goal is to reach at least a dozen schools across North America as the Motorsports team travels to events on the 2014 race circuit. As part of the curriculum, Mazda brought Mazda’s TUDOR United Sports Car Championship SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel Prototype show car to Middleton High School, in addition to a powerful, fully illustrated presentation that shows the importance of each one of the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the role they play in motorsports. Select professional race drivers and engineers from Mazda Motorsports were also on hand to provide real life examples of what it takes to race at the highest level of the sport.