Speedway high school students hit the assembly line as part of new statewide program

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By Charlie De Mar

INDIANAPOLIS, In (Oct. 9, 2014)-- A group of Speedway high school students hit the assembly line Wednesday at Allison Transmission. They were given a taste of what it takes to work in the world of manufacturing.

It’s part of a statewide intuitive called Conexus. The program introduces high school students to careers in manufacturing and logistics.

"I think it's pretty interesting that we get to do this," said Speedway senior Will Jackman.

"It’s very rewarding for me to see the light in the kids eyes. It's like their eyes get real big when they build transmissions or go through an assembly line," said Kyle Owens, engineering technology teacher at Speedway High School.

The students earn college credit and the gain the skills they need to one day get a job at a manufacturing company.

"It’s a start. It's a way to get kids interested in what we do for a living," said William Turner, director of education and development at Allison Transmission.

Leaders with Allison say this program also helps to address the growing skills gap in Indiana. Governor Mike Pence has been vocal about this issue. He says there are a lot of well paying manufacturing jobs in Indiana, but there are not enough qualified candidates to fill the positions.

"We plan to be here for a while, but we need additional workers to keep coming through our doors to helps us grow and get better," said Turner.

"They can’t find the workers to fill those positions, so classes like this allows Allison to bring kids who are walking out the door of high school and fill these positions," said Owens.

The two-year high school course is offered at more than 80 schools and is delivered to more than 1,000 students statewide. The program was developed by the Indiana Department of Education and Ivy Tech Community College.