Project Focus/Mentor + and GEAR UP Birmingham team up to take GUB students on tours of The University of Tennessee Chattanooga and Volkswagen

GEAR UP Birmingham Visits UTC and Volkswagen

GEAR UP Birmingham (GUB) teamed up with Project Focus/Mentor + (led by Mr. Delane Knight) to take students to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) and Volkswagen. Students chosen to attend this field trip were those who showed an interest in engineering and manufacturing. Ninth and 10th-grade students from Wenonah High School, Huffman High School, and Ramsey High School participated in the trips throughout the fall of 2017. Students began their tour of UTC at the campus’ central hub, the University Center, which includes the campus bookstore, dining facilities, and other offices. Students were excited to see that the food court housed some of their favorite restaurants such as Steak and Shake and Chick-fil-A.

Students were also introduced to the Mocs One Center, which offers college students a “one-stop-shop,” to meet all needs without having to visit multiple buildings. At the Mocs One Center, GUB students received packets containing information on scholarships and the benefits of attending the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

Another stop on the tour included a visit to the Challenger STEM Learning Center. This was the first center in the nation integrated with a university campus. The space center is similar to a mini museum with model spaceships, pictures of astronauts, a mini space command and an actual flight simulator.  The students also viewed the investigative classroom within the learning center. The students wrapped up the campus visit by touring UTC’s new library. Here they learned about study areas, student ID computer access, and the dedicated student-writing center that offers free help. One special group of students also visited the male dormitories, the football field, and other athletic amenities.

Once the tour of UTC was completed, GUB students visited the Volkswagen manufacturing plant. Volkswagen is one of the only manufacturing plants that is Platinum LEED certified; this certification is given to plants that operate at a highly efficient level in every way imaginable. The building has a small solar farm that provides 10% of the plant’s energy during the week, and on the weekend, when cars are not being manufactured, it supplies power for the entire plant. During the tour, students watched a video of how the Passat is built and had a chance to see the role robotics plays in the manufacturing process for Volkswagen. Through the introduction to robotics in the plant, the students directly saw why it’s beneficial for them to consider engineering and programming as possible majors.

All of the students who attended the event were able to get helpful information on college and careers.

Project Focus provides essential life skills to help young adults be successful in academic, personal and professional settings as well as provides mentoring support for GEAR UP Birmingham students and their parents/guardians. This organization has been committed to preparing young adults for life beyond high school since 2007.

Author: Dr. Marsha H. Savage

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