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Toyota funding keeps students engaged in STEM throughout the summer

In the continuation of a longstanding relationship between Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia and WVU Tech, Toyota has provided funding for programs designed to keep both college and high school students working on STEM projects throughout the summer months.

The organization donated over $12,000 to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja buggy team for their 2016 competitive season. Each year, the team builds a Baja-style racing buggy from the ground up. Students handle every detail of the buggy from conceptualization and design to constructing the vehicle competing in maneuverability, acceleration, braking and endurance events. The team recently met in New York to compete in Baja SAE Rochester June 9-12.

Toyota has also pledged $30,000 for WVU Tech’s STEM Summer Academy for Girls. Launched in 2015, the popular program brings high school girls to campus for a five-day immersion in STEM fields. Participating students work on hands-on projects and experiments, hear from female STEM professionals, explore career options and present what they have learned to their parents. The 2016 Academy will be hosted in Montgomery July 24-29.

In addition to financial donations, Toyota employees work with K-12 students at various WVU Tech outreach events throughout the year and with the Baja team on machining various vehicle components.

Dr. Zeljko Torbica, dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences at WVU Tech, said Toyota’s support for SAE and the Academy is invaluable to the success of the programs.

“These programs show students what engineers and scientists do in real life. They provide quality experiences that make these students better engineers and scientists when they do decide to follow those paths. Toyota understands the importance of this type of outreach, and we’re very grateful for their financial support and the time and talent they share with our University on a regular basis,” he said.