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Bowling Green Chamber ‘On Track’ to Build Tomorrow’s Workforce

On Track initiative is designed to expose students to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)

As part of the “On Track” program, two teams of Bowling Green students are given a Camaro to rebuild with certain conditions, culminating in a competition between the two teams.

For most high school students, learning to drive is a significant rite of passage. Taking that fascination with cars several steps further, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT) to support the “On Track Initiative,” a program in which teams of high school students compete in designing and rebuilding cars.

LIFT is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives.

On Track is designed to generate interest in careers in the advanced and lightweight metals manufacturing industry through practical application. After only a year in operation, the On Track initiative has been able to reach over 500 students, thanks to the collaboration of partners that include Western Kentucky University, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, the Bowling Green Independent and Warren County School Systems, and the Warren County Area Technology Center.

During the 2015-16 school year, teams competed with two second-generation Chevrolet Camaros purchased from Bowling Green-based Holley Performance Products. The 2017 competition will center on increasing performance through lightweighting and other advanced techniques while introducing students to careers in advanced and lightweight metals manufacturing.

On Track will follow each team’s progress and will document each phase through photos and videos shared on social media. At the end of the rebuild, the cars will be unveiled as they compete in the Grand Champion category at the 2017 Holley LS Fest in Bowling Green.

“The On Track initiative is designed to expose students to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts that drive performance through project-based learning as well as career pathways in advanced manufacturing. By working on these cars and engaging in this competition between the schools, students are gaining valuable experience and developing skills that are in high demand in the south-central Kentucky region,” said Ron Bunch, president and chief executive officer of the Bowling Green Area Chamber. “Through this initiative, we are working to grow the talent pipeline with highly skilled employees to meet the regional business demand, and thanks to the partnership with LIFT, we will now be able to expand the program and reach exponentially more students than we did in the first year.”

Students enrolled in automotive, welding, machine tool and collision repair will work directly on rebuilding the cars, while students in physics, biology, engineering, business and math will also contribute to the design, business and marketing aspects of the project. Mentors from sponsoring companies will work with teams to bring private-sector knowledge and experience to the projects.