A new program offers IUPUI scholarships for teens of color interested in STEM academics, including auto racing. The university's School of Engineering and Technology partnered with NXG Youth Motorsports, and WFYI’s Terri Dee spoke with Dean David Russomanno about the initiative's goals.
WFYI Reporter Terri Dee: Can you create the bridge between the IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology and the racing industry and why the decision was made to create this partnership?
David Russomano, Dean, IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology: We're so fortunate to benefit from our location here in the city of Indianapolis, productive partnerships with industry, corporations, and other community partners is one of our strategic areas of strength. We always try to leverage with respect to NXG Youth Motorsports. We share the same goal and that is to see more underrepresented students pursue careers in STEM. In terms of the motorsports connection, being in the self-proclaimed motorsports capital of the world gives us lots of advantages in terms of
well prepared faculty and others that can support our motorsports engineering program, the only one of its kind in the entire United States.
Dee: When does the partnership begin and how is it structured?
Russomano: Well, it starts immediately and so the way I like to view it is like any partnership. We try to start with immediate success, and then grow it from there. So, we're starting the partnership with our school providing scholarships to students who participate in the NXG Youth Motorsports program. My understanding is the NXG program has several ladders. So, what we've tried to do is also ladder a scholarship program with that program. So, if students participate in the youth motorsports academy, we're providing a $2000 scholarship per year, should they matriculate to the School of Engineering and Technology program at IUPUI. If the student goes on to the next step in the ladder, which is the Grand Prix program, then we're providing an additional $2000 that can be stacked upon the prior scholarship. This is our first step in our partnership; a very tangible, concrete way in which we can work together. Of course, we'd like to deepen that partnership, through looking at ways we can perhaps enhance curriculum and other ways to make motorsports engineering as well as all the engineering and technology fields attractive to our youth in our school.
Dee: Are there any other types of summer school classes or something that the chosen students can take to kind of ease them into this, and kind of further and deepen their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math?
Russomano: Well, that's certainly a shared goal. So the NXG Youth Motorsports program, I believe has an outstanding curriculum which does get into the introduction to motorsports, the automotive industry, as well as a suite of career skills. We certainly would have a shared goal to work together in terms of additional programming, you know, leveraging our motorsports engineering program. Some of the NXG Youth Motorsports programming could potentially include visits to our schools, seeing some of our laboratories, having some programming various experiences for students on our campus, and then the program will evolve with these additional areas of programming that we can work together.
Dee: I appreciate your time talking with me today, David.
Russomano: Very good, Terri, and thank you for your interest in reaching out.
That was WFYI’s Terri Dee speaking with IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology Dean, David Russomanno. NXG has enrolled more than 1200 girls and boys during its 15-year history.