The offering of a new minor in motorsports management is just one way that Indiana State University is responding to the needs of the motorsports industry, an area of growing importance to the state of Indiana and the nation's economy.
Three ISU colleges (business, health and human performance, and technology) will collaboratively deliver a minor and are working together to study the industry to determine what other programs and initiatives are needed. The minor will draw on the expertise of faculty in these colleges to provide a motorsports emphasis which will complement a variety of degrees.
"Motorsports is a large and diverse sector of our economy and historically has provided employment for many of our graduates, especially from automotive technology management (the only four-year program of its type in the state)," said W. Tad Foster, dean of ISU's College of Technology. "The industry is growing rapidly in size and complexity and, based on input from our advisory groups, we believe the time is right for the creation of degrees specifically designed for this industry."
Scot Elkins, a member of the motorsports management and automotive technology management advisory committees, graduated from ISU's automotive technology program 10 years ago. Today, he is the director of technology for the Champ Car World Series, and he says a minor such as this would have been a wonderful introduction to his career.
"If it (the minor) were here, I would have started my career path a lot sooner because at the time I didn't know that working in motorsports as a career was even an option," Elkins said.
"The biggest thing that the ISU program has going for it is that it's spread across the three colleges (business, technology and health and human performance)," he added. "None of the other programs in Indiana have that."
Elkins and others like him, have joined with ISU faculty to mold the motorsports management program into a unique offering and to assist Indiana State in playing a major role in the motorsports industry throughout the state of Indiana and beyond.
In addition, ISU will be hosting a visiting fellow for a six-month period this spring and summer. Guy Faulkner of the University of Westminster, London, England, will be housed in ISU's College of Business and will aid in the development of this and other motorsports initiatives and partnerships at ISU.
Another way that ISU motorsports faculty and advisory board members are working to garner input from key players in the industry is via an industry survey. Representatives from ISU's College of Business developed a comprehensive survey to take the pulse of the motorsports environment as it now stands. The survey developed in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation will help them to determine exactly what jobs are out there, what specific skill sets are needed, and what the future growth potential is for these companies and their services in each sector of the industry.
"It would be foolish to develop academic programs without fully understanding what is needed and that requires listening to the experts who understand the industry and make hiring decisions," said Ron Green, dean of ISU's College of Business. "Our goal is to work collaboratively with those already in the motorsports industry to allow us to prepare future professionals with the skills and knowledge they will need."
The motorsports industry encompasses a variety of occupations, such as the designing, building, maintaining, managing and promoting of motorized vehicles intended for competition. It also includes the creation, financing, managing and promoting of facilities, products and services in support of these competitions. ISU's minor will include 21 credit hours of required and elective courses, including everything from "Introduction to Risk and Insurance" to "Legal Environment of Business" to "Marketing Applications in Sports" to "Introduction to Automotive Engines," among others.
In addition to a minor and industry survey, the College of Technology has been working with alumnus Michael Wright (professional aviation flight technology, 2003). He is chief executive officer of Wright Innnovations, LLC and his newest company, Wright Engines. Wright is working on a revolutionary high-efficiency engine design, and the College of Technology will play a major role in the testing of the first prototype.
"As we move forward from today, it's going to be my pleasure to share with companies all over the United States and some around the world the strengthening of our motorsports workforce that we're having due in great part to schools and universities like Indiana State University," said Matt Steward, director of motorsports development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.