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Auto Show:  2011 Dc Auto Show

Volkswagen Backs Education in Washington DC Area - 2011 DC Auto Show


January 2011 author photo

Autotrader



January 28, 2011

Calling the Washington Auto Show the company's "home town show," Volkswagen of America president and CEO Jonathan Browning used VW's press conference to highlight the company's support for numerous educational efforts in the region, from grade school to grad school.

Since relocating its headquarters to Herndon, Va. in the DC metro area, the company has taken on support for nearby schools, starting with the DC Scores after school program that combines creative writing, soccer and service for 800 students in 25 area schools. Hmm, Volkswagen also sponsors the DC United Major League Soccer team… could there be some self-interest here in developing future stars for the team?

Not sure, but VW is definitely interested in helping its customers and dealers with a program to support automotive technical training for 1,200 students through Fairfax County, Va. high schools with donated vehicles and training for teachers on repairing cars.

High school doesn't always work out for some students, so Volkswagen is helping at-risk kids and adults through support of the Excel Institute, a vocational training school in Washington, DC. So far VW has helped 225 students attend the school, while VW and Audi technicians help train the school's teachers on the newest car technology.

The company is also involved in higher education in Virginia, starting with the donation of cars to nearby community college campuses for their automotive repair programs.

For those kids who want to design and build the cars, VW is backing programs at three area universities. The company is funding scholarships giving a free ride to lucky engineering students at George Mason University in nearby Fairfax, covering tuition, room and board.

VW took 18 students from the University of Virginia's Global Ingenuity Program on a two-week trip to Germany last year, where the students collaborated with their peers from the Technical University of Braunschweig. Their challenge was to develop safe, innovative ways to assist the driver performing tasks and managing information while driving.

Virginia Tech's Vehicle Terrain Performance Lab got a VW Faculty Innovation Grant, funding the lab's mission to improve performance through better interaction between the vehicle and the terrain it is covering. Tech students also work on computer models with Volkswagen's Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, Calif., and for the past three years they gained first-hand engineering experience tuning and preparing the cars of the TDI Cup racing series.

"Being at home in America isn't just about providing paychecks and selling cars," Browning explained. "It also means being a good corporate citizen."

And if all of its neighbors aren't on board with the good citizenship thing, they should look out because Volkswagen also donated a Jetta Sportwagen to the Town of Herndon police department.


DAN CARNEY is a veteran auto industry observer who has written for MSNBC.com, Motor Trend, AutoWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications. He has authored two books, "Dodge Viper" and "Honda S2000" and is a juror for the North American Car of the Year award. Carney covers the industry from the increasingly strategic location of Washington, DC.

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Volkswagen Backs Education in Washington DC Area - 2011 DC Auto Show - Autotrader