Will Power STEM

HOUSTON -- “What’s the No. 1 enemy for an IndyCar engine during a race?” Verizon IndyCar Series driver Will Power asks a group of students visiting the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers.

“The driver,” one of the student answers.

“Friction and heat,” yells another.

Ilmor engineer Tony Sime tells students that “Other than Will, friction is the biggest enemy” he and his colleagues face in designing and improving the Chevrolet Indy V6 engine in Power’s car.

The role of science and math and its role in motorsports was the key message of the day in the 45-minute presentation that featured Power, Sime and Dr. Richard Dixon, Shell North America Motor Oil technology manager.

Sime, the lead designer for the Chevrolet Indy engine, asked the middle-school students to rub their hands together as fast as they could to demonstrate friction.

“You’ll notice that you generated heat and noise,” Sime  said. “Now imagine if you had some water in your hands. That’s what it’s like in an engine, only we use oil as lubrication instead of water.”

Lessons like the ones taught by Sime and questions & answer sessions with all the speakers reinforce the lessons the students learned during the school year.

“A lot of times as a teacher we’re talking  about these ideas and concepts, but when the students see that the teacher actually has an idea what they’re speaking about and they hear it from real people doing real jobs, it helps them make a connection,” said Steve Kimbrough, a teacher at Olle Middle School in Aleif, Texas.

Added Power: “Math and science applies to motorsports, a lot. There were some great questions for both myself and the engineers and I’m sure it’s more exciting to come out in the real world and apply the lessons from the classroom to here.”

Meanwhile, teammate Juan Pablo Montoya and Verizon showed their support for education at the Community Family Center in Houston. Montoya spoke with about  150 Hispanic youth about the importance of staying in school and driving your own future success.

Montoya also presented a $10,000 check on behalf of Verizon to the Community Family Center to help advance the STEM education program and provide technology tools for America’s youth. Verizon donated 300 tickets to the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston to the center.