Mercury Racing® has created two $750 scholarships for high school students enrolled in the Marine Services Technology program at Impact Institute, a vocational career training center located in Kendallville, Indiana and serving thirteen school corporations in five northeast Indiana counties. The scholarships will be available to high school/home school junior and senior students with good academic standing who live within the five-county area served by Impact Institute. Scholarship applications will be available at Mercuryracing.com/scholarships beginning March 2.
“This scholarship is an investment in the future of the boating industry,” said Mercury Racing General Manager Stuart Halley. “Impact Institute has an outstanding track record of preparing students for roles in marine service and manufacturing. Mercury Marine has been supporting the Marine Services program with product and technology because it directly addresses the shortage of qualified technicians in the field, which has an impact on all boat owners. We think this scholarship will help deserving students thrive in the program.”
The Impact Institute (known as Four County Vocational Cooperative until 2013) was formed by a joint service agreement between ten school corporations in June 1969. Today Impact Institute offers 14 different career training programs, from welding and machining to medical technical training. The cooperative provides vocational programs, administers adult education and coordinates communications with the Indiana Department of Education and other state agencies. Impact Institute education programs use a competency-based curriculum approach and rely on student data and industry-driven standards for continuous improvement.
The Marine Services Technology program was founded in 1990, according to instructor Ryan Ramsey, who has been leading the program for 11 years and has previous experience as a marine technician. The program typically enrolls 25 to 32 students a year and is a two-year program open to juniors and seniors. Some students are eligible to take the program for one year as a senior. Students are at the facility for either a morning or afternoon session lasting 2.5 hours Monday through Friday from August to the end of May.
“We actively reach out to all high school students via freshmen/sophomore tours, as there’s great demand not only for technicians but also for service writers, parts specialists, detailers, and manufacturer positions,” said Ramsey. “Our part-time assistant instructor had 30-plus years as a service representative for Evinrude and explains to prospective students that two of the most-successful technicians in his territory were women, and we’ve had a number of female students go through the program.”
According to Ramsey at least 95 percent of the program’s students complete the full two-year program with about 50 percent actually entering the marine industry after graduation.
“Four of our former students have gone on to open their own marinas or service centers,” said Ramsey. “Those businesses and others in the area actively mentor through our internship program or directly hire from Impact. One of our students is opening a brand new shop in Wolcottville, Indiana, this spring. We have a student from 2021, Ethan Beachy, who placed third in the nation at the annual SkillsUSA Marine Service Technology competition and won a full scholarship to Marine Mechanics Institute in Orlando and is also currently employed by Mercury Marine in its maintenance shop at Disney World.”
Mercury Marine has been a partner of the program, providing engines for testing, parts, and training materials. Mercury Marine provides Impact students with a Technician ID to access Mercury University and complete entry level online distance learning courses of which are recognized by the Indiana Department of Education career pathways.
Last year Mercury helped secure funding for the program by contacting legislators as the State of Indiana looked to cut funding for specific programs. Mercury Product Application Engineer Paul Adams is a member of the program advisory board who works closely with boat builders in the region and helped facilitate the donation of a Bennington pontoon powered by a Mercury® MerCruiser® DTS engine. With this boat the students can experience water testing, proper boat launching and safe operation as well as data logging using the latest Mercury Marine diagnostic software.