TechForce Mobile Career Center Brings Hands-on Tech Activities to Gen Z

TechForce Career Center Brings Hands-on Activities to Gen Z

Penske Truck Leasing donated a specially-equipped 26-foot Freightliner M2 box truck to house and transport the foundation's Mobile STEM Career Center.

TechForce Foundation announced that Penske Truck Leasing has donated a specially-equipped 26-foot Freightliner M2 box truck to house and transport the foundation’s Mobile STEM Career Center. The truck was introduced at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction with a news conference on Jan. 22.

(Left to right) John Heenan; Jennifer Maher of TechForce; EVIT student; Fred Haddad, Tess Esperago and Monty Yonce of Penske; Adam Linquist of WD-40; Chris Blanchette of Advance Auto Parts; and John Gowey, GM ASEP instructor, Snap-on

The TechForce Mobile STEM Career Center is a traveling hands-on exhibit designed to engage Gen Z and help them discover the rewarding career path as professional technicians in the transportation field. Part of TechForce’s national workforce development initiative, the center can be deployed for indoor or outdoor activities and can scale from several hands-on activities to more than a dozen. It features a built-in exterior video wall as well as retractable awnings and two large freestanding shade covers. It also serves as a mobile billboard, and its eye-catching design was a collaboration between artist Kevin Paige and Roush Industries who donated the integrated design and wrap.

“This generous donation from Penske Truck Leasing is helping amplify TechForce’s ability to directly engage with many more young people who may not realize they might have a knack for this career path,” said Jennifer Maher, CEO of TechForce Foundation. “Although we developed the STEM career activities over the past few years, we’ve been limited by our ability to deploy them — these are big and heavy activities. This Penske truck makes us highly mobile, and we are looking forward to hitting the road in 2022. The real reward for us is when we get to see these young people light up as they discover their skills and how much they enjoy these activities which can lead to considering a rewarding career as a transportation tech.”

Added Penske Truck Leasing President Art Vallely, “Technicians are a key component of keeping the supply chain in motion by servicing existing diesel engines and the emerging EV technologies. Investing in the next generation of technicians is vital to our business and industry. Our ability to configure this vehicle to fit the Mobile STEM Center’s needs was the perfect opportunity for us to align with our continued pledge to support TechForce and its efforts to engage with future technicians.”

The Mobile STEM Career Center activities include:

  • Pit Stop Challenge – Race against the clock to see who can change the tires fastest on the front clip of a real NASCAR. Get to use the real power tools from the racing pits.
  • Go Nutz – See how good you are at matching the fasteners (nuts) to the Snap-on wrenches.
  • The Virtual V8 – Discover the inner workings of the virtual V-8 engine projected into your real world.
  • Off the Line – Test your reflexes on a real light tree from a drag strip starting line.
  • Slot Car Racing – Discover how shape and weight can determine the winning car as you take on challengers.
  • High-tech Circuits – Build your own functioning circuitry with real circuit boards, wires, motors and lights.
  • How’s It Work – Discovery station manned by instructors who demonstrate some of the common auto systems and maybe even some catastrophic failures.
  • Model of Power – Try your hand at building a functioning, scaled-down model of a V-8 engine.
  • Cutaway V-10 – Check out the inner workings of a real high-performance V-10 engine.
  • Code-A-Car – Write code to power miniature auto functions like lights and fans.
  • Ford GT – Check out and maybe even get your picture at the wheel of the Nicolas Cage Ford GT.
  • TechForce Network – Explore the free competitions, events, training and other resources designed especially for the next generation of techs.

All of TechForce’s partners have helped bring this Mobile STEM Career Center to fruition. In addition to Penske and Roush, several others have been integral, in particular Shell Lubricants for helping fund its deployment to events like Barrett-Jackson, and Ford Motor Company, Sunstate Equipment and Snap-on for helping to equip the center.

For more information on TechForce Foundation, visit techforce.org.

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