A weeklong pilot project to promote automotive service careers among younger students received a powerful injection in both name and horsepower.
“Nitro X Camp” at St. Cloud Technical College assembled a select group of middle school students, who worked on gas-powered radio controlled cars and raced them. The action was interspersed with sessions exploring automotive service.
The grant funded program brought together auto industry leaders, including the Collision and Service Council of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association and Luther Automotive. They joined with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and its auto training programs.
Students practiced the under hood basics of engine performance, such as air, fuel and ignition. They built car chassis and learned about the attributes that impact vehicle dynamics, such as ride. A paint booth simulated that realm of auto body work and apps on iPads were used to tune the machines, explains Matt Carlson, a service specialist with Luther Auto.
Teams of two prepared for a Friday race day, with one student driving and another monitoring vehicle temperatures and schematics with a tablet computer. Awards included “Best in Show” recognition, as well as race winners.
Ultimately, Carlson said, the goal is to raise auto industry awareness among students. In addition to auto service industry reps, heavy truck and auto body professionals helped with planning.
The group has some larger goals in mind, and hopes to bring Nitro X to more state colleges and universities each year. Carlson especially values talking with parents about possible career paths for their kids.
“They can come out with a two-year degree making more than their four-year counterparts.”