Education news

Those who want to get into automotive school get tour at NASCAR Technical Institute campus, team shops

During last week's school board meeting, a number of field trips being planned during the school year were approved unanimously.

One of those trips is taking place this week as 39 students from the Polk County College and Career Academy are taking a special trip to the Universal Technical Institute's special campus in Mooresville, N.C., where they plan to take a tour of the NASCAR Technical Institute along with three different pro racing shops in the city.

Corey Smith, who teaches engineering and construction at the College and Career Academy, said the organization is providing students with the opportunity on the two-day trip that happened on Monday and Tuesday after press time to see what the campus is like in hopes that they might decide to try and get into the program.

"We've had two different students from Polk County who have been accepted into the program, and one of those students is now working for Penske (Automotive) for the past 7 or 8 years," Smith said.

UTI's program only accepts 25 students a year, and last year one of those who was accepted was Melanie Argo. Smith said that based on his last update of her progress at the NASCAR Technical Institute, she was in the Top 3 of the 24 student class this year.

"This young lady, who no automotive experience in the shop or at the school but had taken my engineering classes is doing fantastic in this school," Smith said. "So it's a tremendous opportunity for students."

But one that comes at a steep price. Those 25 accepted into the program from across the nation into the 36-week program can expect to pay $30,000 in tuition costs to UTI, according to Smith. They also go through an interview process up front so the school gets what they want out of students as well.

Smith said the cost is worth it in the long term. He pointed out that students who go through the program are likely to end up with high paying jobs since once they are through have the practical knowledge to work on high performance engines, and on just about any CNC project they might come across. That gives them a chance to get into shops that will provide tuition reimbursement, or companies who need the practical technical skills of students over the longer course of academic work taken by engineers.

Especially since firms need skilled workers now.

"Over at Rome Plow, I know they have openings for CNC machinists, and I know of manufacturing facilities in Rome that have jobs they need filled right now," Smith said. " It's a necessity right now that's needed, not just in the state but across the nation."

Smith also added that students who apply for the program are evaluated and given a full rundown of what is expected of participants, including the up-front cost.

With the incentives of potentially finding a job with tuition reimbursement, Smith hopes that schools like this can give his College and Career Academy students a different option other than a four-year degree if they want to move forward, one that he might have taken himself had the opportunity been available when he was getting his engineering degree.

Smith will have Allen Ivie, Mike Lester and Christy Leatherwood along on the trip with the 39 students who he said are committed to finding educational opportunities like this as they get ready to move out of high school and onto their future careers.

"These students are an amazing and intelligent group that show a great interest in the career pathway represented by this school," Smith said.

The field trip for CCA students was one of five that the Board of Education approved last week.

Upcoming trips will also be taken by the Rockmart High School Future Farmers of America for the national conference for students in Indianapolis, Indiana in October, along with Eastside Elementary students' trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville in November to participate in the Surveyor program.

At the beginning of December, Cherokee Elementary School's student choir in the Nashville, Tenn., Christmas parade, which Superintendent Laurie Atkins said will be televised.

Also approved was Cedartown High School's Theatre group trip as they to the annual Georgia State Thespian Conference held in Columbus upcoming in February 2018.