- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - There is a mystique to the motorcycle. This is captured in Hollywood movies like “Easy Rider” to Milwaukee’s Harley Fest. Americans are intrigued by motorcycles. For Bradley Tech High School students in its BUILD program, the motorcycle is a unique way to learn job skills for the modern economy.

Bradley Tech has a history of teaching the trades, WUWM-FM (https://bit.ly/1PITiI5 ) reported. Five years ago, the school implemented the BUILD program. The program teaches students skills to put together a fully functioning motorcycle.

Steve Hopkins, an adviser for the program, says, “(BUILD) just fits into the whole scope of what Bradley Tech is about.” The program is not your typical science, math or English class in which students sit in desks all day; he says, it requires a lot of hands-on engagement with motorcycle parts and mechanics.

“Come on now, motorcycles, that’s pretty cool, right? I mean, yeah, that’s how I got interested in it,” admits Alex Reyes, a Tech student. “And they told me it was about building a motorcycle, so, I like the idea of that.”

While the glamour of motorcycles may be what initially attracts the students, Hopkins explains “it’s not all grease and busted knuckles. We discuss history, design, engineering, fabrication, welding, powder coating, fiberglass mold making, tool identification and how to use them, and, yes, we do use math.”

For Angel Castro, another student in the program, this type of learning is working. “I like that I get to learn more about the background history of the engineering of a motorcycle. We have fun. We work hard to get this done and try our best.” Both Angel and Alex are interested in pursuing engineering after high school.

“I enjoy seeing the students become exposed to the hands on, the tool usage, the questions that are asked and the pride that ultimately shows when we go from a 1972 rusty, greasy, cruddy looking motorcycle to a freshly painted, freshly done, gone through from stem to stern motorcycle. It’s a real treat,” Hopkins says.

Most importantly, Hopkins says, the skills learned in the BUILD program transcend motorcycles. “That pride is something that we’re trying to build, a teamwork, pride in the end product. This happens to be a motorcycle, but it could be in any other discipline within that school,” he says.

The finished bike will appear in two races this summer: Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan on June 3-5 and Road America in Elkhart Lake, June 10-12 . At Road America, the students will compete for the BUILD Cup in which organizers will throw a wrench into the bike and the students will have to identify and fix the problem.


Information from: WUWM-FM, https://www.wuwm.com

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