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Governor Cooper promotes Students@Work week at Charlotte ZMax Dragway

Governor Cooper promoted Students@Work week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s zMax Dragway Tower. The program led students through a racing-related STEM tour. 

Cooper used the opportunity to ask students about what they want to be when they grow up and tell them that many of the jobs of the future have not even been invented yet. 

“You don’t have to go to four years of college to get a really good job,” he said. “It’s fine if you do go to college…but there are some great jobs that you can get right out of high school with certification, and some of those jobs could be right here.”

He told the students the world was open to them, even without a four-year degree, including jobs in advanced manufacturing, technology, and more. 

Governor Roy Cooper visiting STEM sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMax Dragway Tower as part of Students@Work week (Alex Granados/EducationNC)

“There are so many things that you can do when you grow up if you have the right kind of training,” he said. 

Cooper said that as he travels, he hears from businesses all over that they have jobs to give but require a skilled workforce. He highlighted NC Job Ready, a workforce development plan with three parts: 

  • Getting students the education and training they need
  • Getting businesses involved with internships and apprenticeships
  • Local innovation

To accomplish these goals, he said North Carolina needs to become a top 10 educated state in the nation by 2025, and communities need to capitalize on what they have. 

Student doing a racing-related STEM experiment at Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMax Dragway Tower (Alex Granados/EducationNC)

“Every community is different,” he said. “Not every community has a Charlotte Motor Speedway.” But, he added, every community has something positive. 

Cooper also commented on concerns about school safety following the Parkland School shooting in Florida. 

“What I believe is that we have to keep our schools safe, and we do have to have some measures in place that can keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who are severely mentally ill,” he said.

He said he put forward a plan for law enforcement to work with local districts to keep schools safe, as well as making the permitting and background process stronger. 

The Charlotte Motor Speedway coordinates the annual STEM tour Cooper visited. It includes breakout sessions with racing-related STEM lessons. This week, about 200 students were participating from across the region. The Speedway hosts about 15,000 kids a year at the STEM tour. 

Governor Roy Cooper visiting STEM sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMax Dragway Tower as part of Students@Work week (Alex Granados/EducationNC)
Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.