It’s not every school’s admissions team that brings along a NASCAR-style vehicle on a recruitment visit, but that’s exactly what happened at North Surry High School on Thursday.
Universal Technical Institute’s admissions representative Brad Mecham and marketing manager Mario Pennycooke set up a couple of tents, a trailer, a racing motorcycle and a NASCAR racer in back of the school near the football field, where Pennycooke broke the news to students that if they wanted to be automotive technicians, they’d better be listening up in their STEM classed. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Pennycooke told the students that at his school, NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, they wouldn’t be taking literature or composition classes.
“This is a hands-on career, and that doesn’t help you fix a vehicle,” he said. “But you will be using concepts from your STEM classes.”
He explained to the group of fourth period students — mostly boys and a few girls — that STEM has always been a part of technician trades, but technology is making it more and more so.
He gave a few examples of the way technology has revolutionized the automotive field. Newer cars do data-logging, and some have cameras that take photos in the event of a crash, a feature he said would be on all new cars before long.
“So if you crash your car, it could actually snitch on you. Don’t think no one is watching. Your car is watching,” Pennycooke warned the students.
He then told the students that the automotive business needed people who were good with information.
“Racing teams need people who are not just good with screwdrivers and wrenches but with computers.”
As Pennycooke neared the end of his talk, some of the students had drifted over to the demonstration NASCAR car beside his tent.
“They want to be in front when he takes volunteers to change the tires,” said North Surry’s construction technician teacher, Chuck Hiatt.
Word had gotten out from previous groups who had attended the presentation earlier in the day.
“We’ve had a big crowd all day,” said Hiatt.
It’s not as easy as it looks. Some of the students struggled with the wheels. Others didn’t seem comfortable with letting the lug nuts fly through the air. But they all seemed to enjoy the experience.
Brandon Jones, who is the son of racer Bobby Jones, and David Holder, who is a lawn mower racer, as well as Trevor Marsh, said that NASCAR Technical Institute was on their radar for when they graduate from North Surry.
All three said they want to be able to work on cars and build motors, both regular passenger cars and high-performance ones. After Thursday’s presentation, they were still very interested in attending the Mooresville school.
David Holder said, “I want to tear them down and then build them back up.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.