DETROIT -- There is one universal truth in the job market right now: STEM is hot.
STEM education -- or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- provides high school students with highly marketable skills, especially in the automotive industry.
With the ongoing shortage of engineers in the automotive field, Mazda Motor Corp. is heading straight to the source.
Mazda says its racing program wouldn't exist without STEM. So its new Racing Accelerates Creative Education program takes Mazda Motorsports all over the country to teach high school students about STEM career paths at Mazda Motorsports.
RACE representatives from Mazda Motorsports swung by Detroit Public Schools this week while they were in town to race in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship -- part of Detroit Grand Prix festivities this weekend.
They were accompanied by special guests Joel Miller, a Mazda racecar driver and engineer, and the new Skyactiv-D clean diesel prototype racecar.
Miller is Mazda’s obvious spokesman for the RACE program. He is the company’s only driver with a degree in engineering. But for Miller, getting involved in STEM education was just an extension of his real passion.
“I’ve always been technical, but I’m a driver at heart,” Miller said. “Engineering really comes second, but it allows me to translate what we’re doing on the track to the engineers.”
John Doonan, Mazda’s director of motorsports, said the goal of RACE is to answer the question every high school student asks -- “Do I really need to know this?”-- by telling stories that truly relate to their classroom work.
Miller and Kyle Kimball, a Mazda motorsports specialist, told the students they use equations every day to calculate and determine important competitive advantages, like how fast a pit stop needs to be.
In fact, math is so integrated into the careers at Mazda Motorsports that everyone is required to pass a math test before getting on the track or in the pits.