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Nitro X truck camp brings high energy, hands-on fun for preteens

News Release: 
Nitro X Truck Camp

Ricardo Salazar of Team Gateway finished first in the Mini Mile and road course races, while Aaron Zhang of Team Snap-on won the drag race at Gateway Technical College’s second annual Nitro X summer camp races held June 28 at the college’s Horizon Center for Transportation Technology.

The weeklong Nitro X camp held at Gateway gave middle school students a fun way to learn about cars, careers and the automotive industry. Campers built their own fuel-powered, remote-control truck, designed the body of the vehicle – and then raced it at the end of the week.

“Nitro X is a fun, fast-paced, high-powered introduction to careers in the transportation industry,” said Automotive Technology instructor and camp director Ken Dotzler. “The camp also supports our college vision, which is to make life-changing educational opportunities a reality. The camp is a lot of fun for the middle-schoolers, but it also introduces them to the many rewarding careers in the transportation industry.

“We emphasize the importance of education and provide an example on how those classroom skills can be applied to the real world.”

Students also learned about the industry through hands-on activities at the Horizon Center, the epicenter of Gateway’s auto and diesel technology programs.

“I am interested in mechanical things, in engineering, and when I saw this, I begged my mom to let me do it,” said Salazar. “It’s been a fun week – I really enjoyed being able to work on the truck, fix it, race it. We get to fix our trucks, it’s fun and gives us a head start when we go into our engineering career.”

Zhang, too, said he was drawn to the camp because of its hands-on nature.

“I’m interested in engineering and I thought it would be fun,” Zhang said, “and it was fun.”

The camp was sponsored by Snap-on Incorporated, Lynch, the Kriete Group, Gateway Technical College Foundation, Foundation of the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association, Burlington Hobbies, Don’s Auto Parts & Machine Shop and Bumper to Bumper.