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Toyota starts kids out on STEM careers early

After-school program rolled out for Southern California high-schools

Published: August 9, 2016, 4:50 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 12:51 PM

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle

Mirai Horizon Challenge

Toyota is gaining a reputation for promoting auto education to young students, and the company is now launching a new initiative in southern California to promote STEM careers.

Toyota is showing its ongoing commitment to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers with the introduction of the Hydrogen Horizon Automotive Challenge, a semester-long after-school program for 20 schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

“The Hydrogen Horizon Automotive Challenge provides an opportunity to introduce the next generation of innovators to fuel cell technology,” said Doug Coleman, Toyota national vehicle marketing manager. “We hope this challenge encourages students to join Toyota in the effort to create a more eco-conscious and sustainable future.”

Mirai Horizon Challenge computer rendering

Created in partnership with the Horizon Educational Group, the Hydrogen Horizon Automotive Challenge gives students hands-on experience with building their own fuel cell remote control vehicles, while learning about the future of alternative fuels (and fuel cell technology in particular). The program finishes in March 2017 with a race of the fuel cell vehicles created by the student teams from each school.

Horizon Educational provides a fun and meaningful learning experience for students by adapting innovative technologies — game-based learning, augmented reality virtual field trips, biometric eye tracking to see how students see what they’re learning and how well they understand it — into classrooms while maintaining high academic standards.

The program will revolve around the design principles of the Toyota Mirai, with information sharing by engineers who overcame obstacles in Mirai development. Support will come from Toyota fuel cell engineers, Mirai owners, and from NASCAR pit crew members for the race final.

Mirai Horizon Challenge RC chassis

Toyota started the ball rolling (not literally) with a teacher training session at its Torrance, California headquarters. The participating schools (10 from Los Angeles County and 10 from Orange County) have largely multicultural student bodies, which Toyota says affirms its commitment to ensure students from all communities and backgrounds have access to STEM career opportunities.

There is no word on whether Toyota and Horizon Educational will consider expanding the program to more schools in more areas.