TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Formula SAE team, Honda Performance Development and STEAM Sports Group are teaming to educate children about the importance of science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM, in the motorsports and automotive industry.
The event is part of the Honda STEAM Connections tour and will take place Wednesday, April 18, at the University outside the Ferguson Center on 7th Avenue. The featured guest is five-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and “Dancing with the Stars” season 23 runner-up James Hinchcliffe.
“Everybody’s excited from all the different student teams to be able to help some of these students recognize how they have options in STEM,” said Zach Hagan, Formula SAE team captain and a junior mechanical engineering student from Prattville. “It can be a lot more personable and tangible when you can see yourself with those people doing those projects, and you’re able to get excited about it. That’s what we want to accomplish.”
The UA Formula SAE team will unveil its 2018 vehicle for the first time at 11 a.m. Hinchliffe will drive the current Formula SAE model and showcase it to 300 grade school students invited to the campus for the event.
“We’re excited to be able to claim that an IndyCar driver will have driven our car,” Hagan said. “I can’t imagine any better thing to complement the years’ worth of hard work than to have a professional driver help unveil our car.”
Following this reveal, Hinchcliffe, along with Honda Performance Development engineer Brian Johnson, will speak to students about the importance of STEAM fields and the exciting career opportunities and possibilities within these fields of study.
“In motorsport, as in most careers these days, the sciences and math are so important,” Hinchcliffe said. “The amount of technology in the Honda engine and the race car really is fascinating, and I count on that engineering and the people supporting it every time I’m on the racetrack.”
The day of the event will also include a competition electric vehicle on display from Huntsville-based company GreenpowerUSA, a Q&A period and autograph session with Hinchcliffe, and a tour of the UA engineering labs.
“I’m confident that this will be a great season for Crimson Racing,” Hagan said. “It’s truly awesome to be able to pair my team’s passion for racing with such a wonderful outreach event.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.