Higher Education Fills Need for Speed

Colleges and universities are feeling NASCAR’s need for speed.

Institutions are expanding motorsports-related degree programs to meet the demand for high-skilled workers on racing teams and throughout the industry. The trend is especially apparent in the Charlotte region, considered the cradle of the sport and host to Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

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  • UNC Charlotte will offer industry-related electives in a master’s program in sports marketing and management that starts this fall.
  • Legislators are considering spending $500,000 to support motorsports training at community colleges.
  • Belmont Abbey College in Gaston County launched a four-year business program in racing management last fall.

Graduates are winning, too:

At Hendrick Motorsports, the hottest team in NASCAR, one-fourth of its engineers were trained at UNCC, school officials say. Other schools have alumni at companies such as Dale Earnhardt Inc. and NASCAR Images. The growth of motorsports programs coincides with the general increase in demand for skilled auto technicians.

On Tuesday, Central Piedmont Community College dedicated its Joe Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology, which certifies current and prospective technicians to work for companies such as BMW and Toyota. On the motorsports side, CPCC already offers a machining certificate and has proposed opening a motorsports institute. continue reading

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