STEM workshops put students behind the wheel of an e-racing simulation

As Chicago prepares for its first ever NASCAR street race, more than a dozen students have managed to round the Chicago course with a full motion racing simulator. Students test drive a car, and also create a part of the car.

Last month, INROADS College Links, the eRacing Association, STEM Lingo, and Sim Racing Chicago held a STEM Engineering “Experimental” workshop for Chicago-area students at Venue SIX10 in the Loop.

“They do things that, when I was in high school, we never tried, right?” said Jesse Iogee, a NASCAR driver, team owner and US Navy officer. “We’d connect different wires together just to light a light bulb, and they work with sensors.”

With the help of STEM Lingo instructors, the students put together a backup sensor that beeps when the car backs up. The students programmed it to sound an alarm when an object was approaching.

“I didn’t know anything about coding, but they expose me to a different world of STEM,” said Amber Banks Jenkins, 16, a sophomore at Lincoln Park High School who hopes to become a gynecologist one day. She said she was initially not interested in STEM, but the experience gave her a new perspective. “Here, I might really enjoy programming, like I have to get to know if I like it or not.”

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Amber Emanuel, left, 17, a freshman at Timothy Christian High School, and Alexandria Johnson, 17, a freshman at Alma McCauley Liberal Arts High School, assemble a backup sensor during the Electronic Racing Association’s Workshop at Venue SIX10 in the Loop on May 20. .

Students were driven by the excitement of the cars when they hopped in the driver’s seat of the Sim Racing Chicago simulator, which was designed to mirror the Chicago Street Race and mimic the motions of race cars. Beyond that, it was a learning experience.

Some of the students will be at a NASCAR race this weekend downtown to show off the sensors they’ve built.

“I love hearing about racing, like I didn’t even know STEM was a part of racing. I didn’t even know STEM made NASCAR possible,” said Amber.

Derek Tolbert, 16, a sophomore at St. Lawrence High School in Burbank, said he wants to learn more about racing and STEM, especially because he’s about to get his driver’s license.

“Technology, because it’s such a big part of our world today, especially all the things we learn about, all the technology we use, I’d like to understand more of what I’m doing so I can learn more and get better at it in the future,” Derek said.

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