Today, the Warren County Area Technology Center was announced as the winner of the inaugural On Track Grudge Match - dubbed the Dominator Challenge - at an awards ceremony at the school. The win was announced after a weekend of competition at the 2016 Holley LS Fest at Beech Bend Raceway.
In 2015, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, 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 (ATC) and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC). 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 from companies like Holley Performance Products and General Motors worked closely with students and faculty to aid in the development of the cars as well as the curriculum.
This past weekend, the cars were slated to compete in the Holley LSFest Grand Champion competition, after being judged on their business/marketing plan and their use of STEM educational principles at a private event last week. The Warren County ATC car competed in the Autocross, Track X, 3S, and drag race competitions during the event. The SKYCTC car was unable to compete due to mechanical issues. SKYCTC was still able to compete in the Design and Engineering portion of the program, and was named a President's Pick in the Show portion of the LSFest competition.
"Being a part of the On Track initiative has been an amazing experience for the students and faculty at the Warren County Tech Center," said Eric Keeling, principal of the Warren County Area Technology Center. "This initiative has created opportunities that we would never have been able to offer. Students are engaged, motivated, and inspired by people believing in them enough to make this kind of investment in their future. We can't thank the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce and Holley Performance enough for creating opportunities in the Motorsports pathway. The bar was set extremely high and our students delivered! I'm so proud to be at the helm at the Warren County Tech Center. We have amazing students and amazing teachers."
"We are extremely proud of both teams. We know the amount of work and dedication it takes to accomplish what they did and it's amazing. Both cars turned out spectacular and to have Holley products powering both cars is a great feeling. Thanks to the Chamber for their foresight and dedication to building our future workforce in Bowling Green", Bill Tichenor, Director of Marketing, Holley Performance Products.
According to Chris Cumens, vice president of finance and administration at SKYCTC, "While it is a huge disappointment not to be able to compete, this weekend was a major victory for the On Track initiative and the future of our students."
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 incumbent, underemployed, and unemployed 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 sector. We would like to thank the more than 50 corporate sponsors that stepped up to help make this project a reality. Thanks to their generosity and commitment to education, initiatives like On Track are possible. We would also like to thank the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for their promotional work on this initiative and their commitment to growing the motorsports community in South Central Kentucky."
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.