Indy Race Car Driver Draws Crowd to Technology Event

The MSU Spokesman

Nuclear Clean Air Energy Indy car
Nuclear clean air energy Indy car

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, an audience of all different ethnicities gathered to Morgan State University for the first Nuclear Clean Air Energy Indy Car STEM Outreach Event. Hosted by the nuclear energy company, Areva, in the university’s student center theatre, President Wilson, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and CEO of AREVA, Mike Rencheck, all stressed the importance of making Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs available to minority students. Nationally only “167,000 students are graduating with a STEM degree,” said Rencheck.

The event flyer described the gathering as an ‘interactive experience’ for the audience, but speeches focused on coaxing students both young and old to get involved in a STEM career.  Instead of going into the scientific and mathematic details of how the ‘Clean Air’ car was made and how it works, most speakers simply pointed to the high-tech car as a model of what you can do with STEM-related degrees.

The STEM program delivers hands-on experience to young children in the math, science and technology fields. Its purpose is to expose children to these fields and encourage them to pursue them throughout their college years. “Without STEM graduates, products don’t get made,” said Rencheck.

According to President Wilson, Morgan State is not only one of the oldest HBCU’s in the country, it is also number one in producing black engineers. Further, the  school currently has forty foreign exchange students from Brazil who might also bring STEM skills back to their country. President Wilson sees these opportunities as a way build Morgan’s reputation as a STEM-strong school.

Simona de Silvestro encourages young girls to go into male-dominated fields
Simona de Silvestro encourages young girls to go into male-dominated fields

In an effort to “try to get young folks interested” in STEM, Areva teamed up with Swiss INDY driver, Simona de Silvestro to help promote her upcoming race at the Grand Prix of Baltimore. De Silvestro’s infatuation with racing came at age six when she began go kart racing. From then on, she knew that racing was in her very near future. This led her to driving the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car last weekend. As an advocate for STEM, de Silvestro explained that it has opened up many great opportunities in the nuclear industry field.  During the affair, Lt. Gov. Brown gave the 25-year-old female driver a few words of encouragement for her race, “Keep your arms loose, your head on a swivel, and you’ll do well.”

She did. De Silvestro finished in fifth place at the Baltimore Grand Prix on Sunday.