Since 2014, nearly 20,000 high school students across the United States have taken part in the Mazda STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) presentation called “Racing Accelerates Creative Education” (R.A.C.E.). Created by the Mazda Motorsports staff to address the growing shortage of new graduates in engineering and science, the interactive presentation uses the excitement of Mazda racing to inspire and educate high school students about the wide array of career paths they can choose by studying the four STEM disciplines.
Mazda professional race driver Joel Miller, who is also a degreed mechanical engineer, is the featured presenter of the one-hour multi-media program, which also includes the opportunity for students to see and touch the exotic 190-mph Mazda Prototype race car.
The major teaching elements of the presentation include:
— SCIENCE: An overview of how science helps refine chicken fat and used cooking oils into the fuel used to power the SKYACTIV Diesel racing engine.
— TECHNOLOGY: 100 percent of the Mazda Prototype race car is designed on computers with CAD (Computer-aided Design) and other complex programs.
— ENGINEERING: An inside look at what the race team engineers utilize in making thousands of decisions to make the race car faster on a given track.
— MATH: A series of math problems to help analyze average speeds of the race car as well as the amount of track covered in one second (can be up to a football field per second).
The program has reached a variety of major cities such as Detroit, Tampa, Atlanta and Austin, Texas, as well as smaller towns such as Deland, Florida and Watkins Glen, New York. Mazda, working with local race tracks, has also been able to provide tickets to allow students the opportunity to see the racing action in-person.
In conjunction with Mazda North American Operations and the “Mazda Drive for Good” charitable foundation, donations have been made to schools in Texas and Georgia to help fund new STEM programs and facilities.
Mazda teamed with the Florida Chamber of Commerce to create a roundtable discussion about ways STEM education can help provide the next generation of much-needed highly educated students. The roundtable featured top business owners, local and national political leaders and honor students immediately after the R.A.C.E. presentation at a Tampa high school.
“In many industries in Florida – and across the nation – we see a shortage of new engineers and scientists in the job market,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “It’s wonderful to see the Mazda STEM program reaching thousands of high school students with an exciting message about the opportunities their future can hold by pursuing one of the STEM disciplines. Using the Mazda race team as the basis of their presentation, it’s a fun way to show real-world examples of what is possible.”