IZOD

Passers-by gaze at the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car driven by IZOD IndyCar racer Simona De Silvestro, 24, displayed Tuesday afternoon on the Reitz Union North Lawn as part of KV Racing Technology and Entergy Nuclear teaming up to promote the "Nuclear Clean Air Energy" public awareness program.

Camera phones emerged as the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar rolled onto the North Lawn Tuesday.

It is the car IndyCar driver Simona “Swiss Miss” De Silvestro uses to race.

De Silvestro, who started racing when she was 6 years old, was on the North Lawn with her car and her KV Racing Technology team. They were promoting science, technology, engineering and math educations and careers to students on campus.

De Silvestro understands the importance of clean air. Upon coming to the United States from Switzerland, she said, she realized that a lot of people did not know the importance of nuclear energy.

De Silvestro said she drove the first Nuclear Clean Air Energy car for Paul Newman in 2008. Nuclear Clean Air Energy has been her official sponsor since 2011.

“It’s a difficult sport, but I was always aiming to get the results and become respected as a race car driver,” she said. “It’s always fun to beat the guys.”

Laura Clise, director of external communications for Areva, said that the event’s main goal was to inform students about the shortage of current STEM students and graduates. Clise said Areva, which is a leader in solutions for low carbon power generation, has a long-standing relationship with UF, and that it has hired four students in the last couple of months. This is the first time Areva has partnered with De Silvestro to do an event promoting STEM.

UF students Ryan Kelley, a 27-year-old nuclear engineering graduate student, and Paul Johns, a 21-year-old nuclear engineering junior, won a drawing to attend the opening race of the 2013 season after taking a STEM pledge before the event. Those who pledged vowed to volunteer for activities promoting STEM in the Gainesville area.

Johns said he signed up to have high school students shadow him on campus for a day.

He said that these potential STEM majors are “seeds for the future.”