MIAMI, FL (August 7, 2017) – Last Thursday, Betsy Grider, Managing Director of Technology Development at NASCAR, spoke to Miami area high school students as a part of Columbia’s “Girls in STEM Initiative,” a national pre-collegiate Initiative developed and run by Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. The Initiative directly addresses the persistent gender gap across STEM fields by building a talent pipeline, and aims to ensure that young women, particularly from underrepresented populations, have greater access to and success in STEM education and careers. The week in Miami was held at Hard Rock Stadium.

Thursday afternoon, the students had the opportunity to hear from Grider on the various ways in which STEM plays a role in the day-to-day operation of NASCAR, arguably a sport that relies on technology the most.

“Technology is the core of what we think about for the future of our race cars and for the future of our sport,” said Grider. “From a logistical perspective, we are basically picking up three city blocks of Manhattan and transporting it around the country 38 weekends a year. It’s an intense operation, and the technology that comes behind that makes the experience more efficient and more exciting for fans.”

In addition to hearing from Grider, the students had the chance to experience the twists and turns of Homestead-Miami Speedway from more than 40 miles away of the track. Through virtual reality, the girls took a ride in the same stock car as Monster Energy Series driver Daniel Suarez from the 2015 Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series race.

Prior to addressing the students, Grider had a chance to tour Homestead-Miami Speedway – the site of Ford Championship Weekend - along with Jason Wingard, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University.

"The Columbia Girls in STEM Initiative advances our School’s mission to increase access to, and serve the educational needs of, students across the learning continuum. With a curriculum designed to engage a diverse population of students through experiential instruction in STEM-related fields, while also developing their leadership and communication skills, the Initiative offers an unparalleled foundation for post-secondary preparation and career readiness” said Wingard. “Learning from executive role models and mentors like Betsy is an important component of the Initiative, and her message inspired our students to envision their academic and professional potential.”