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Youth auto career expo to move to Warren

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 13, 2015

A vocational expo that started in Utica Community Schools to expose young people to automotive industry careers is shifting into a higher gear.

The 2015 Automotive Design & Engineering Career Expo will take place May 20-21 at the Macomb Community College Expo Center in Warren. During the event, major automakers will hold exhibits on different career fields in the auto industry.

Event organizer Harry Istok said the venue was changed and the event was opened up to additional school districts at the request of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

“In addition to Utica Community Schools, now we have opened this event to all 21 districts in Macomb County,” Istok said. “We have the capability of handling about 2,400 students.”

In addition, they may invite select schools from Oakland and Wayne counties, he said.

Istok, who is a retired engineering drawing teacher, said he initially started the expo during the 2006-07 school year with a few GM designers and engineers, and just four cars. They originally talked to an estimated 100 drafting students at Malow Junior High School in Shelby Township, he said.

As the event grew more successful in following years, Ford jumped aboard in 2009, and soon after, Eisenhower High School students started to participate, he said.

In 2012, Chrysler helped teach the kids about the industry, too, and the event expanded to encompass the artistic side of automaking.

In 2013 and 2014, Utica Community Schools held the event at the Joan C. Sergent Instructional Resource Center in Sterling Heights and opened the event to more district schools, Istok said.

This year, Istok said, more than 30 cars will appear at the event. FCA plans to demonstrate auto sketching, GM will focus on digital and clay modeling, and Ford will teach production design, organizers said.

“It shows a kid the whole gamut, from art to part,” Istok said.

Greg Cummings, production digital sculpting manager at GM, explained that his company will bring a number of cars to display. He said the digital and clay sculpting demonstration will turn an artist’s rendering into a three-dimensional computer-aided design, as well as a physical clay model of a vehicle.

He talked about how the clay model can be made.

“Last year, we had a (computer numerical control)-type of clay milling machine,” he said. “This year, we’re going to use a more hands-on approach.”

Cummings said the event is meant to bring awareness of career options not only to students, but also to the students’ parents. He also wants to highlight the role that art plays in designing vehicles, along with science, technology, engineering and math.

“It all starts with the artist’s sketch, and then the product becomes a reality,” he said.

The 2015 Automotive Design & Engineering Career Expo will be held May 20-21 at the Macomb Community College Expo Center, 14500 E. 12 Mile Road, P Building, in Warren. Find out more by visiting