GREENVILLE, S.C. (Oct. 10, 2018) – The third time Dane Cameron was asked “How do you get in and out of that car in a race?” he was prepared with a comprehensive, yet succinct, answer.
“Very carefully but very quickly,” the Team Penske driver replied, pointing to the seat under the canopy of the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype during the Acura STEAM Connections Tour event at Clemson University’s Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).
The program, in collaboration with the university’s Formula SAE and Baja teams, showcased the science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) behind the Acura program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the automotive industry to more than 200 area middle school students.
Students peppered Cameron and his Honda Performance Development engineer, Eric Hsu, with similar questions about the exotic race car during group tours of displays that also included the CU-ICAR graduate student-designed and -built Deep Orange 9 prototype rally car sponsored by Honda R&D Americas Inc., Formula SAE and Baja race cars, and CU-ICAR large-scale test equipment.
Michelin North America Motorsports Technical Director Ken Payne joined Cameron and Hsu for a panel discussion in the AT&T Auditorium on campus, and all relayed their passion – in different aspects – for motorsports and how important STEAM curriculum has been in their career path. Dr. Rob Prucka of Clemson’s engineering faculty shared the “secret sauce” behind the University’s Deep Orange car design and development.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 80 percent of all jobs by 2025 will require STEAM-based education and/or training.
“From car design to race setups to in-race strategy, all aspects of motorsports draw from these areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” Cameron said. “Simply put, we could not function without engineers and personnel that have this background. If you can find areas that you like in STEAM subjects, you can combine that with a passion or hobby to pursue your dreams, whether it be in motorsports or another area. I did.”
Payne, whose 30-year career at Michelin North America has included being a test driver to overseeing R&D for passenger car and light truck tires to, since 2012, leading the technical team supporting road racing and motorsports activities, encouraged the students to “find their passion.”
“As you move into high school, you might say, ‘Am I ever going to use that?’ Keep an open mind. Music, math, art, science. Everything you learn in all the different subjects, somewhere, sometime, you’ll find a bit that is useful and help you follow your passion,” he said. “There are so many opportunities in the realm of motorsports and the automotive industry. Art and music. How a tire looks is important to the public. The design of the tread pattern, the look of the sidewall.
“There’s a recipe that goes into it. We have folks that are material specialists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, architects. And I say music because one of the things that we work hard on with the tires on street cars is noise. We consider things like harmonics and the frequency that the tread pattern generates when it rolls across different pavement surfaces.
“It’s truly the full spectrum of STEAM that is required to successfully develop tires, produce them, get them to the public, and promote them.”
The Acura and Honda STEAM Connections Tour of universities across the nation, in its third year, is organized and managed by STEAM Sports Group.
Honda Performance Development
Founded in 1993, HPD designs and develops racing engines and chassis performance parts for a variety of motorsports applications. HPD also provides factory support and parts for grassroots racers, helping power their racing dreams. HPD, which is marking its 25th anniversary in top-level North American motorsports, last month earned the Manufacturer Championship in the Verizon IndyCar Series. A Honda 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 Honda engine propelled Scott Dixon to the driver championship for entrant Chip Ganassi Racing.
STEAM Sports Group
A marketing and special events firm that focuses on how to integrate corporate STEM and STEAM initiatives (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) with sporting events, leagues, conferences, governing associations and athletes. STEAM Sports Foundation is SSG’s ancillary 501c3 that seeks funding primarily for educational programs, curriculum and scholarships in an effort to unite business, education and sports.
Recognizing workforce and economic development as an integral part of corporate growth, SSG and SSF work with companies, educators and sports groups to develop initiatives around science, technology, engineering, arts and math that prepare and excite America’s youth to create tomorrow’s vibrant workforce.
Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. CU-ICAR offers masters and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering and is conducting leading-edge translational research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities available for commercial use.