Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC and Warren County Public Schools Join Forces to Launch a Middle School Robotics Program

Published Tuesday, March 3, 2015 12:00 pm
by Kim Phelps

 The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce today announced a new partnership between Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC and Warren County Public Schools.  The partnership will feature robotic and engineering education for middle school students across the county. 

Over the next two years, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC (BSFB) will contribute just shy of $32,000 to the robotics programs – providing more than 40 LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robots, course materials, programing software, and curriculum and course training, as well as four days of professional development for course instructors. By the end of 2016, an estimated 1,200 students will have participated in a BSFB-supported robotics course.

BSFB recently celebrated the conclusion of a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robotics program at South Warren Middle School. The pilot program, conducted as an extra-curricular after-school activity, is the first of nine robotics courses Bendix will fund for Warren County Public Schools and the Bowling Green Independent School District in the next two years. Each program is specifically designed to provide students with hands-on experience in logical reasoning, construction, robotics, and engineering.

“Our employees are proud of what we do here in Bowling Green and we are committed to supporting the communities where we do business.  We are very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the students to the world of robotics through such an outstanding program,” said Andy Dale, Bowling Green plant manager. “The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 curriculum is a great way to introduce students to the possibilities of a career in engineering and manufacturing and to begin cultivating the necessary technical skills through hands-on learning activities.”

Throughout the program, students will gain exposure to construction techniques, programming skills, problem solving, and hands-on challenges, such as navigating robots through an obstacle course or programming a robot to complete five laps around a track and stop automatically.

“We are grateful to Bendix for offering this tremendous opportunity to our students,” said Jason Kupchella, chief academic officer and assistant superintendent for Warren County Public Schools. “There is great enthusiasm from students and parents alike, and we are thrilled to offer this type of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programming in our schools.”

Skilled and available talent is a critical part of the Chamber’s economic development approach, and today’s partnership is a great example of business and education working together to create a well-trained workforce that is ready to go straight from graduation to employment in a career path that is rewarding and supportive of continuing education. In 2013, the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership funded the Urgent Call to Action study, which led to the realization that in manufacturing alone, South Central Kentucky will have 4,500 open positions by 2016 and 9,000 by 2020.  Since that report, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce has continued to foster partnerships like this one to ensure a robust talent pipeline that directly responds to the needs of our local economy.

 “The innovative pilot project between Bendix and South Warren Middle School is yet another example of how our community comes together to support the education of our future workforce,” said Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon. “I commend Bendix for reaching out to the schools to design this pilot project, and I am very much looking forward to the program’s expansion into the rest of the middle schools in the Warren County as well as Bowling Green Independent School Districts.”

“Once again I am pleased to see our business and educational communities working together to support the education of our future workforce.  This kind of cooperation is one of the many things that makes Bowling Green unique and the envy of cities across the Commonwealth.”  MelinDa Hill, Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Bowling Green.

 “Part of the challenge is a general misconception that manufacturing and skills careers are lower value. As a result, the majority of schools are focused on college preparation,” Dale said. “In truth, however, a career in manufacturing is a great option for those who recognize the value of engineering and for the bright, hands-on learners who don’t necessarily do well in a traditional classroom setting. We are very proud of the skilled employees at our facility and are committed to helping educators better demonstrate the value of manufacturing.” 

As an extension of the initial roll-out in middle schools, Bendix is also looking to support advanced programs for high school students, which it hopes to offer through the Warren County Area Technology Center in the near future.

“Even if we can get just sixty or eighty kids a year interested in learning more about pursuing manufacturing as a career, that’s a win for us,” Dale said. “We look forward to expanding our efforts in the coming years and to seeing the results from these initial programs.”

In addition to BSFB’s partnership with Warren County Public Schools, the company contributes to its local community in a multitude of other ways. Contributions include Bendix employees regularly participating in the annual Junior Achievement Mini Corvette Challenge, volunteering to help educate students in local Junior Achievement programs, and serving as board members of local nonprofits.

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About Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC:

Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC combines and expands the complementary wheel-end foundation brake technologies of two global leaders – Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Dana Commercial Vehicle Products, LLC. The joint venture, formed in July 2004, is a single, complete source for OEM brake system design, manufacturing, hardware, and support for all foundation brake components and actuation systems, as well as all-makes coverage of nearly 50,000 medium- and heavy-duty aftermarket parts. Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC is headquartered in Elyria, Ohio, with engineering operations in both Elyria and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a manufacturing facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky. For more information, call 1-866-610-9709 or visit www.foundationbrakes.com. To learn about career opportunities at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake, visit www.bendix.com/careers. Follow BSFB on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Bendix_CVS. Log on and learn from the Bendix experts at www.brake-school.com. 

About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:

Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was named the 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,200 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region.