Indy Autonomous Challenge racecarINDIANAPOLIS (May 25, 2021) ─ Ascend Indiana and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) are partnering to help attract and retain participants in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) in order to meet a growing need for tech talent in the state’s advanced industries. More than 500 students from 40 universities in 14 U.S. states and 11 countries, including two from Indiana, signed up to compete in the IAC.

The IAC is the world’s first head-to-head, high-speed autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, taking place on Oct. 23, 2021. The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s (CICP) energy technology initiative Energy Systems Network, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are organizing the competition, which has a $1.5 million prize purse and has attracted the best and brightest university students and advisors from around the world.

The IAC event enables participants to engage in first-of-their-kind engineering challenges that could contribute to the future of autonomous mobility. The focus of the partnership between Ascend Indiana and the IEDC is to aggregate “autonomous talent” – workers skilled in computer science and mechanical, automotive, and electrical engineering, as well as those who are specifically focused on autonomous vehicle engineering, including the IAC participants – and connect them with career opportunities in Indiana.

Through the partnership between Ascend Indiana, the talent and workforce development initiative of CICP, and the IEDC, IAC students will sign up for the Ascend Network, a unique, online job platform that connects job seekers with relevant open jobs and internships in Indiana through one-on-one assistance with a recruiter. Simultaneously, Ascend and the IEDC will work alongside statewide employers to collate open jobs and workforce demand. This partnership will enable Indiana to begin attracting and retaining the highly skilled talent necessary to meet growing demand and establish Indiana as an autonomous talent hub.

“The future of mobility, including automotive manufacturing and the development of autonomous vehicles, relies on world-class talent,” said Dave Roberts, IEDC chief innovation officer. “We are thrilled to partner with Ascend and leverage the power of their Ascend Network talent platform to help attract and retain top talent to Indiana, which offers a growing and vibrant workforce, world-class research universities, and a strong community of entrepreneurs.” The IEDC is one of the founding sponsors of the IAC.

“Central to Indiana’s long-term success –and that of our residents –is our ability to match talent supply with changing workforce demands,” said Jason Kloth, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana. “As automation and digitization continue to evolve the automotive industry, we look forward to working alongside the IEDC to connect high-quality talent with the state’s available opportunities now and into the future.”

The primary goal of the IAC is to advance technology that can speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). These enhancements will lead to increased safety and performance in all modes of racing and commercial transportation. In addition, the competition is a platform for students to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

To learn more and sign up for the Ascend Network, visit

About Ascend Indiana

Ascend is the talent and workforce development initiative of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), an organization that brings together industry, higher education and philanthropic leaders to advance our region’s prosperity and growth. Ascend’s vision is for Indiana to be a place of economic opportunity for all. To achieve this, Ascend bridges talent and communication gaps by creating connectivity between people and employers. Ascend has focused its efforts around three core priorities: connecting students to career opportunities through the Ascend Network talent platform, catalyzing transformative employer and education partnerships through Ascend Services, and informing workforce research and public policy through thought leadership. To learn more, visit

About the Indiana Economic Development Corporation
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit