On Track Cars Unveiled at NCM Motorsports ParkThe Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Warren County Area Technology Center, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, Western Kentucky University and Holley Performance Products unveiled the newly rebuilt Chevrolet Camaros that will compete in the Holley LS Fest this weekend as part of the organization’s On Track educational initiative.

In 2015, the Chamber, in partnership with the Bowling Green Area Economic Development Authority, purchased two second-generation Chevrolet Camaros from Holley Performance Products and donated them to Warren County Area Technology Center and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College.  During the 2015-16 school year, students completely rebuilt the cars using multiple educational disciplines, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). During this process, industry experts worked closely with students and faculty to aid in the development of the cars as well as the curriculum. This weekend, the cars will compete in the Holley LSFest Grand Champion competition, while also being judged on their business/marketing plan and their use of STEM educational principles.

“This collaborative approach involves science, technology, engineering, math, business, automotive, and welding standards.  This mixture of theory and real-life application provides kinesthetic learners with the opportunity to learn academic standards while actually touching and experiencing the “why” they need to know a particular concept,” said Eric Keeling, Warren County ATC principal. “This initiative has inspired excitement and passion for students who are interested in all things automotive. This initiative has proven that when you provide purpose and passion students will pursue excellence!”

“The last few months have been both exciting and affirming.  The community support for On-Track has been over-whelming.  This confirms the importance of the program to the area and that as a community we are on the right track,” said Chris Cumens, vice president of finance and administration at SKYCTC.

The On Track initiative is a crucial piece of the Chamber’s commitment to the development of talent for the future workforce of South Central Kentucky. The Chamber has long been the driving force in convening partners to offer educational programs and services in Warren County and On Track is one part of the Chamber’s overarching talent development initiative – SCK LAUNCH, South Central Kentucky Learning About Unique and New Careers Here. This initiative begins at the earliest opportunity in kindergarten and carries through to currently unemployed, incumbent and underemployed workers already in the system. The name implies taking off in a targeted direction as a result of strategic preparation and access to powerful momentum, which perfectly defines the Chamber’s goal in initiatives such as On Track.

According to the 2013 Urgent Call to Action study, South Central Kentucky will have 9,000 job openings in manufacturing alone by 2020. The On Track initiative introduces STEM concepts in a practical setting that will help develop a highly skilled talent pipeline for South Central Kentucky. At the same time, the initiative introduces students to a pathway to careers in advanced manufacturing, a sector that will have growing demand for workers over the next 10 years.

“The On Track initiative plays an important role in workforce development in South Central Kentucky. Through this initiative, students not only learn valuable skills in the STEM disciplines, but they are also introduced to automotive career pathways and opportunities they may not have thought possible,” said Chamber CEO Ron Bunch. “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 automotive manufacturing industry. We would also like to thank the more than 50 corporate sponsors that stepped up to help make this project a reality.  Without their generosity and commitment to education, initiatives like On Track would not be possible. ”

After only a year in operation, On Track has reached more than 500 students, thanks to partners including Western Kentucky University, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, Bowling Green Independent School District, Warren County Public Schools and the Warren County Area Technology Center.

During the initiative’s second year, SKYCTC and Warren County ATC will once again be given two vehicles for student teams at each school to compete in designing and rebuilding the cars during the 2016-17 school year. Thanks to a recent $70,000 grant from the LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) 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 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 economic development and setting high education standards on a national level,” said Mike Buchanon, Warren County Judge-Executive.

“With over 4,000 manufacturing job openings anticipated by the end of the year, the On Track initiative will help stimulate the development of highly-skilled talent for the future workforce of South Central Kentucky,” said Mayor Pro Tem Melinda Hill. “I’m eager to be a part of this pioneering endeavor.”

For those businesses and individuals who wish to receive more information, or be involved in the On Track 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 kim@bgchamber.com.

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