Today, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce officially launched the second year of the OnTrack motorsports initiative with a celebration of the cars already in process.
In 2015, the Chamber launched the OnTrack motorsports education initiative, in partnership with the Warren County Area Technology Center, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, Western Kentucky University, Holley Performance Products, and General Motors with the donation of 2 second generation Chevrolet Camaros. During the 2015-16 school year, students completely rebuilt the cars using multiple educational disciplines including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and advanced manufacturing principles. During the process, classes worked closely with industry experts and faculty on the development of the cars as well as the curriculum, and reached over 500 students in just the first year of operation. In September of 2016, the cars competed in the Holley LSFest Grand Champion competition with the Warren County Area Technology Center claiming the inaugural Holley – General Motors Dominator trophy and SKYCTC picking up a prestigious President’s Pick award in the show category.
During the 2016-17 school year, the schools will once again work on two donated cars and will compete in the 2017 Holley LS Fest in addition to competing on design and engineering and the development of marketing and business plans. In the 2017 competition, the Warren County Area Technology Center will work on a 1980 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, generously donated by the National Corvette Museum. The donation marks the initiation of a new partnership with the National Corvette Museum and highlights the importance of the region’s connection to America’s sports car and manufacturing giant General Motors. The Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) will also work on a donated vehicle – a 1994 Chevrolet Camaro donated by the late Ken Stirn of Scottsville.
Thanks to a grant from the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) organization, the 2017 competition will focus on increasing performance through lightweighting and other advanced techniques. Similarly, the students will be introduced to careers in advanced and lightweight metals manufacturing, both high demand business sectors in South Central Kentucky.
The initiative will also partner with the new Warren East Engineering Academy, using the Machine Tool program to create their own parts and solutions. As the program continues to grow, the Chamber plans to cement the program’s curriculum into a nationally portable model and expand the competition to other schools in the South Central Kentucky region by year three.
According to Eric Keeling, principal of the Warren County Area Technology Center, “The OnTrack experience has been an amazing opportunity for our students and school! Thank you Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, Holley Performance, and SKYCTC for your visionary leadership. While we did not know what to expect last year, the outcomes were more than we could have possibly hoped. Students took ownership of the project and worked in teams to accomplish their goals. The Synergy that was generated as a result was overwhelming. We are even more excited about OnTrack 2! After taking first place for OnTrack 1 (The Dominator), our students are pumped about the challenge of maintaining the title! Students are engaged and anticipating the next step in the build process. Now that we have one year behind us, we plan to take this year’s build to new levels!”
“We were delighted with the impact year 1 had on our students, but this is just the beginning of what this program can truly offer our region. Year 2 brings a new car and a new challenge and we are already seeing increased engagement from students and sponsors,” said Chris Cumens, Vice President of Finance and Administration at SKYCTC.
“With nearly 9,000 openings anticipated in manufacturing alone by 2020, the OnTrack initiative will help stimulate the development of highly-skilled talent for the future workforce of South Central Kentucky,” said Mayor Bruce Wilkerson. “I am proud of what the teams were able to achieve in the first year of the program, and I look forward to seeing them take it to the next level this year.”
The OnTrack initiative is a crucial piece of the Chamber’s commitment to the development of talent for the future workforce of South Central Kentucky. According to the 2013 Urgent Call to Action study, South Central Kentucky will have 9,000 job openings in manufacturing alone by 2020. The OnTrack initiative introduces STEM concepts in a practical setting and emphasizes a career sector that will see high growth in the coming decade.
According to Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch, “The OnTrack initiative plays an important role in workforce development in South Central Kentucky. Through this initiative, students will not only learn valuable skills in the STEM disciplines, but they will also be introduced to automotive and advanced manufacturing career pathways and opportunities they may not have thought possible. The motorsports community is strong in South Central Kentucky and we are delighted to be able to support an initiative that will train future workers to support and grow our local economy.”
“The motorsports and automotive industries are an important part of the fabric of South Central Kentucky. I am pleased to witness the realization of an initiative connecting the growth of our economy and setting high education standards on a national level,” said Doug Gorman, Warren County Magistrate.
For those businesses and individuals who wish to receive more information or be involved in the OnTrack initiative, we are seeking monetary and product donations as well as mentors. For more information, contact Kim Phelps at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce by calling 270-901-4611 or emailing [email protected].