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TechForce unveils “hands-on” mobile STEM career center for Gen Z’ers

Penske donates specially equipped 26-foot box truck to house and transport the center nationwide to ignite industry interest

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

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 free-standing shade covers. It also serves as a mobile billboard and its eye-catching design was a collaboration between artist Kevin Paige and Roush Industries which donated the integrated design and wrap.

“The mobile career center will be traveling to schools and public events like auctions, cars ‘n coffee, races, skills competitions, etc,” stated Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Mike Pressendo in an email to Aftermarket Matters. “We do not have a published schedule yet. Demand is high and we need to see where logistics align best. We are beginning with the 180 schools in our TechForce Network [as potential visits]. Also, if a school not in our network aligns with the travel schedule we will absolutely consider it.”

“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 TechForce CEO Jennifer Maher. “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.” 

Art Vallely, president of Penske Truck Leasing, said, “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 to Ford Motor Company, Sunstate Equipment and Snap-on for helping to equip the Center.


About TechForce Foundation

TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion all students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional transportation technicians. The Foundation distributes more than $1.2 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to its generous corporate sponsors and donors, and spearheads an industry-wide workforce development initiative to help encourage and support more young people to pursue the vehicle technician profession. This includes a network of students, working technicians, instructors, employers, industry professionals and enthusiasts committed to championing the technician workforce. For more information, visit www.techforce.org. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Linkedin.

About Penske Truck Leasing

Penske Truck Leasing is a Penske Transportation Solutions company headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania. A leading global transportation services provider, Penske Truck Leasing operates more than 360,000 vehicles and serves customers from more than 1,300 locations in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Product lines include full-service truck leasing, contract maintenance, commercial and consumer truck rentals, used truck sales, transportation and warehousing management and supply chain management solutions. Visit www.pensketruckleasing.com to learn more.

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