Mini-chopper students get inspired to create motorcycles

By: Charlie Mathews, Herald Times Reporter

Twenty-four local high school students — who will design, fabricate and build mini-chopper motorcycles during the 2008-09 school year — traveled to La Crosse last week to a premier motorcycle show attracting custom motorcycle builders and enthusiasts from across the U.S.

The Lincoln, Roncalli, and Valders High School students are participating on four Manitowoc County High School Manufacturing Project Mini-Chopper teams.

The S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration in La Crosse featured S&S Cycle plant tours, a bike build off, motorcycle races, and a La Crosse Area Harley-Davidson sponsored ride, among other activities. Project Mini-Chopper, developed by the Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County and The Chamber of Manitowoc County, will give the students hands-on skills in manufacturing design, organization and fabrication.

It also promotes interaction with technical advisors from local manufacturing companies.

The mission of the project is to show students, parents and educators that local manufacturing provides excellent career opportunities.

The goal of the local manufacturer and student interaction during the project is to provide the students career advice and future contacts.

The mini-choppers to be built during the upcoming school year by the four teams will cost nothing for the students and school districts.

The entire expense is being born by local manufacturing and business sponsors.

Four major sponsors — "Hardcore Bikers" — have been assigned to a high school team. They will have design approval over the bike and will receive the finished mini-chopper.

The four teams and team sponsors are:

· Valders High School—sponsored by Spancrete;
· Roncalli High School — sponsored by Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry;
· Lincoln High School, two teams, with one sponsored by LDI Industries and the other by Manitowoc Crane Group.

Other sponsors have donated time, expertise, material and money to the project, including Federal Mogul, Valders Stone and Marble, TA Motor Sports, Miller-St. Nazianz, and Rusch Machine and Design. In-kind support has been provided by Perkins and Time Out Sports Bar and Grill.

In addition to learning hands-on manufacturing skills, students building the mini-choppers will earn high school and college credits, practice creative and critical thinking skills, learn and apply creative problem-solving methods and tools, collaborate as team players and enhance communication and presentation skills.

The Manitowoc County High School Manufacturing Steering Committee Members include Jill Hennessey (chair), The Manitowoc Company; Kenneth Stubbe, Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County; and Karen Szyman, The Chamber of Manitowoc County.

Committee members are Ellen Bartling, Valders School District; Kory Brockman, Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry; Rick Conrad, Manitowoc Public School District; Sandy Destree, Department of Workforce Development; Rose Ellinger, Manitowoc Public School District; Sheila Schetter, Krueger International; Steve VanEss, Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry; and, Karla Zahn, Lakeshore Technical College.
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Custom chopper parts

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Custom choppers

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Street legal choppers

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Mini chopper kits