Correction: The original version of this story misstated when Nicci Daly competed in the Olympics. She took part in the 2020 Olympics.
For Nicci Daly and Stefy Bau, who both grew up in Europe, launching their Sim 4 STEM initiative in Indianapolis made perfect sense.
The program features driving simulators and hands-on STEM stations to introduce high school girls to the variety of career options in the world of motorsports. It debuted this month with the final session held May 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the roar of IndyCars serving as background noise as the students worked.
“It’s really important for this program that we attach it to major events like this, so these girls can actually see the cars (in action), they can hear it, they can smell it and they get to experience it as well,” Sim 4 STEM co-founder Nicci Daly said. “Indy is made for a launch pad like this. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Motorsports are in Daly’s blood, as her late father, Vivion Daly, and uncle, Carmel resident Derek Daly, were professional drivers, and her cousin, Conor Daly, is an IndyCar driver set to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Growing up around the sport led Daly to study motorsports engineering, and she spent several years working as a data engineer for Juncos Racing.
She grew used to being among a minority of females in the industry and became passionate about helping other women – who didn’t have her family ties to racing – connect to the sport, too. She launched the Go Girls Karting Initiative in 2019 to offer STEM workshops to females interested in motorsports, with the top students forming teams to compete in her native Ireland.
Daly’s Sim 4 STEM co-founder Bau grew up in Italy with parents who were big fans of motocross. She shared their passion, and at age 4 she began riding, entering her first competition two years later. It launched a career that included several championships as she became the first woman to compete against male racers at the top level. An injury ended her career in 2005.
Years later Bau launched INIT ESPORTS, which focuses on simulated racing events. That led her to create Screen to Speed, a virtual racing competition for females designed to introduce them to the motorsports industry and help them build connections if they decide to pursue a career in it.
“What’s incredibly important is to get a community around you to support you, and this is what we are doing with Sim 4 STEM and Screen to Speed,” Bau said. “We created a like-minded place where girls can come in and ask any question they want. If they want to take the step of pursuing a career in a male-dominated industry, now they have an army of girls behind them.”
Bau, who lives in San Francisco, and Daly, who resides in Ireland and competed in the 2020 Olympics as part of the nation’s field hockey team, connected online through their similar interests and met for the first time in-person in Indianapolis to launch Sim 4 STEM. They received local support from Purpose HQ, a Carmel-based company that aims to help businesses thrive by building a purpose-driven, people-focused culture.
Purpose HQ President Natalie Engledow, a Carmel resident, said a focus of her company is diagnosing workforce challenges and that she was immediately drawn to Sim 4 STEM’s mission to introduce girls to an industry they may not have considered. She worked with area schools to identify participants for the program.
“There is a tremendous need for programs like this to build a pipeline of diverse talent in Indiana,” Engledow said. “I hope this is just the beginning and this can be part of a feeder to a whole pipeline of opportunities that lead toward careers. You’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a pretty great way to start.”
Learn more about Sim 4 STEM at sim4stem.com.