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EUGENE, Ore. - On Saturday, March 17, students from three different Lane County high schools raced in the annual Electrathon, where students race go-cart style cars that they've designed and built on their own.
The cars run on two car batteries, they can run for up to an hour, and they can reach a maximum speed of 40 mph.
Willamette High School is typically a leading group in this race. Students with their school who take part are part of their Engineering CAM (Certificate of Advanced Mastery) class.
Students involved in the class said they feel it's given them a lot of "real world" experience, and it's made them more skilled, marketable, and connected as employees in the future.
"We go on field trips to these places, and they're always like, 'well, we're always in need of manual laborers and you guys have learned how to do that,' and it's really nice to know that I can just transfer that straight over and hop into a job," said Willamette High School senior, Jase Brooks.
Brooks said he plans on entering the Navy next year, and he feels the skills he's gained through this program make him feel more comfortable both with whatever that has in store for him as well as whatever comes afterward.
Lane County employers are facing a crisis as they enter a time of mass retirement. They're struggling to replace those skilled workers, and so they're turning to the younger sector, specifically students in their later years of high school. Programs like this one can help with that search.
"I just wish more schools had it, because it gave me a lot of opportunities, it made me feel a lot better about coming to school. You know, full IB is really difficult, but at the end of the day, this makes me happy, knowing that I'm getting somewhere with this and my schoolwork," said Mckayla Webb, another Willamette High School student.
The race took place at Lane Community College, as it does every year.
Thurston High School and Cottage Grove High School joined Willamette at the event.