Back in 2008, bike shop co-owner Berri Michel had a vision of an education program aimed at training the next generation of bike mechanics. Fast forward to today, and Michel's Project Bike Tech has taught more than 3,000 students the job skills to be hired as a bicycle mechanic and hopes to provide a path to various cycling industry careers including engineering, fabrication, marketing, sales and graphic design.
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Partnering with schools
Project Bike Tech wants to be the umbrella organization that oversees bicycle-oriented classwork in schools in the United States. "We envisioned it being similar to how the auto industry spearheaded the creation of high school auto shop programs back in the 1930s," Michel said. "We set out to create new generations passionate and knowledgeable about bikes.”
Most schools call the class Bike Tech and it's a credited high school elective that meets standards in all 50 states. The class is said to use bike mechanics to teach Common Core and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) curriculum.
While Project Bike Tech's original education focused solely on mechanics, it soon branched out to include sales, POS systems, inventory and even job interview preparation.
Upon completion of the class, students leave with two certificates: one as a entry-level bike mechanic or assembler, which is recognized by the bicycle industry, and one in career tech which is endorsed by Career Technical Education.
Graduates of the Bike Tech program have gone on to jobs at various bike shops as well as at Santa Cruz bikes, Fox Shox, Ibis Cycles, and Snap-On Tools, according to Project Bike Tech.
Project Bike Tech claims there are over 200 students enrolled annually across eight California public schools with a Bike Tech class. Michel says more classes are coming in Colorado and Vermont for the 2018/19 school year.
- Standards-based curriculum on the mechanics of the bicycle
- A hands-on, multi-sensory learning environment
- Specific career training
- Instruction that reinforces core academic skills