The skilled labor workforce is aging. As those who make up that workforce retire, manufacturers will be in need of workers to replace them. High schools across the country are creating programs and initiatives to introduce students to the endless opportunities that they can take advantage of upon graduation. Community colleges, like Terra State Community College, are partnering with high schools and corporations to help those students explore the possibilities to enhance their futures. Companies are providing opportunities through apprenticeships and internships to give students hand-on experience in the skilled trades. One Terra State intern is taking advantage of those opportunities provided by one of Terra State’s partners, Century Die of Fremont.
Harley Davidson, a Terra State intern through WSOS studying Robotic Mechatronics, is putting his skills to work by creating an entry for Century Die’s annual Green Box Derby. The competition, similar to the Soap Box Derby, requires entrants to build a vehicle out of nothing by recycled materials. The vehicles are then driven in a gravity race down a hill in Fremont. Davidson is working hard to get the parts needed for the entry. “We are using all recycled parts,” Davidson explains. “The rims we are using are off an old three-wheeled stroller. All of the rest is scrap metal we found around campus. We’re just trying to find whatever we can to build it.” The construction of the vehicle will also use the assistance of other programs and departments at Terra State. Davidson adds, “For example, the welding department will be doing some work on the project, too.”
The Green Box Derby has turned into a family project for Davidson. His son, Cooper, a seventh grader at Hopewell-Loundon, has become involved. He will be the driver of the vehicle. “My dad was telling me about the derby and he kind of asked me to drive.” The thirteen year old want to study to become an architect, so his interest in design and building is being put to good use.
Century Die launched the Green Box Derby in 2014. According to Century Die General Manager Tim Myers, the company wanted to build awareness of skilled trades. “About five years ago, we at Century Die began discussing what we could do to bring awareness to young people to jobs in manufacturing. They do not know about the opportunities that exist and the good paying jobs that are out there.” To Myers knowledge, there is no other initiative like this in Ohio. Participants are given mentors to help assist in building the cars. “We have mentors from Century Die and Vanguard to help the youth out that also creates bonding between the older and younger generations.”
The Green Box Derby is scheduled for Saturday May 21 at 1:00p.m. on Fremont’s Haynes Street adjacent to the Sandusky County Fairgrounds. Participants ages 12-19 will be competing for scholarships from Terra State Community College. First place receives a $2500 scholarship and second place receives a $1000 scholarship. All other entrants will be placed into a drawing for another $1000 scholarship, Cedar Point season passes and Sandusky County Fair passes. Participants over the age of twenty can enter the trophy only race. For those with an artistic flair can set their sights on the People Choice award. So, there is a category for everyone.