Hoffman Estates Students Build Winning Car; Earn IndyCar Experience

A group of students from James B. Conant High School enjoyed a front-row seat at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the final day of practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. The 10 students and instructors were hosted by BIG KAISER, a technical sponsor for Andretti Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The students earned the VIP trip to Indianapolis after winning their own race in the Illinois Energy Efficient Vehicle Competition on April 30, in Joliet, IL. For this competition, high school students put STEM lessons into practice by designing, building and driving an energy-efficient vehicle. Instead of racing for speed, they competed for maximum distance on a single gallon of fuel, with winning teams routinely surpassing 500 mpg.

The excursion to Indianapolis started with a visit to the Andretti Autosport race shop, followed by a guided tour at the IMS Museum, and then lunch in a private suite during practice rounds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. BIG KAISER President/CEO, Chris Kaiser, accompanied the group. “It was really great to see the enthusiasm of the kids during the tours and when they met some of the Andretti team drivers at the track,” he said.

Programs like the Illinois Energy Efficient Vehicle Competition are designed to promote manufacturing education and technology-related careers to high school students. In years past, Illinois school districts traveled to Wisconsin to participate in energy-efficient vehicle competitions. Thanks to a partnership among several public and private organizations, Illinois students now have the opportunity to participate in this authentic learning experience in their home state.

“This event is one of the most impactful I have seen in all my years of teaching,” said Joe Tullo of the Applied Technology program at Conant High School. “I consistently get graduates coming back to visit and talking about what a great memory it was and they always want to know what the team is up to now.  The competition truly brings everything we work so hard to teach together. Fitting math, science, manufacturing skills, technology, and engineering all into one very friendly and fun competition that revolves around the kids is an amazing thing.  I can assure you this group will be talking about this for a long, long time.”

BIG KAISER, based in Hoffman Estates, is a worldwide leader in high-precision tooling systems and solutions for the metalcutting industry. The company is a strong supporter of manufacturing education and workforce development, and also sponsored the inaugural Illinois Energy Efficient Vehicle Competition in 2017.

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