The Genius Garage Racing, Aerospace, and Design Programs
Going into its 5th year, this 501(c)3 public educational charity was created by Casey Putsch to bridge the gap from academia to industry by providing focused “dream shot” internships for college aged students to best cultivate their real-world application, problem solving, and team work abilities while augmenting their personal growth as individuals. Doctors must go through years of residency after med-school, but young engineering, business, art and design students are left to fend for themselves after graduation with little to no real world experience. The Genius Garage formula utilizes professionals acting as mentors to the students and has been successful from its first year in kick-starting the careers of its alumni. Its students have gone on to full-time employment and internship positions at some of the most competitive companies ranging from Goodyear to Fiat-Chrysler and from Dana to Tesla and General Motors.
Genius Garage began with its Racing Team program in 2014 where students from various majors comprised of engineering, design, business, and communications form their own “professional level” racing team and are responsible for everything from engineering, building, preparation and support of the racing vehicle to the PR, management, and logistics of the team while they prepare for public-spectated competitive racing events. Over the course of the program students are taken on explorative field trips to places such as NASA, Pratt and Miller, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force where professionals bring industry and history alive to the students to expand their global perspectives. Writing assignments stressing critical thinking at a global business and historical level are implemented to further cultivate students growth. Rather than grades, the students are judged by their successes as a team and work ethics as individuals. Exceptional work is rewarded with exciting learning opportunities and students with exceptional papers have been rewarded with getting to drive and exhibit a pre-war classic car at a Concours d’Elegance, to ride at speed on a road-racing track, fly in historic airplanes such a Boeing Stearman bi-planes and a B-17 bomber, and even an all expenses paid trip to Germany and the Nurburgring Nordschleife to crew a vintage race car at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix.
The Genius Garage Racing Team program has competed in notable events in the vintage world because of the ideal environment to expose the students to professional level vehicles and systems as well as to inspire team work while instilling a love for transportation and technology history in young people by making it matter to their lives. Vintage Racing has been a fantastic venue to connect students who will be the future leaders of industry with mentors and positive connections for their future while also benefiting the healthy future of the vintage racing community. Genius Garage race cars have included a 1997 Reynard Champ Car, a 1996 open cockpit WSC Prototype car, a IMSA GTO tube frame Corvette, and a race prepared Ferrari 308 Vetroresina.
For 2018 Genius Garage has expanded to include an Aerospace Program as well as an Automotive Design program. The Aerospace Program works with a similar formula to the Racing Team with the big exception being that it fits within a new industry and centers around a student team building a flyable airplane to be deemed airworthy by the FAA. The 2018 program features the construction of a replica Sopwith Camel bi-plane, and trips with the plane to different air shows and engineering related field trips with the racing team students. Future Genius Garage Aerospace programs will feature projects of different experimental aircraft as well as fixed-wing drone development with student piloted missions.
The Automotive Design program which is lead directly by the Genius Garage founder Casey Putsch, has begun by mentoring a local university’s fine art student in transportation design with an emphasis on real world viability. This program centers around concept development in hand drawn 2-dimensional rendering with scale studio quality 3-dimensional modeling. Putsch utilizes a concept car he created to represent recyclable and low environmental manufacturing techniques in a high-efficiency design known as The Omega Car as a teaching aid which is parked in the Genius Garage studio.
The Genius Garage vision is to ultimately create transportation and technology centers for public learning where all the exhibits exist to cultivate its students with a “spark” as a needed compliment to our American educational systems and as an asset to our industry providing employment ready talent. That is to say, a revamp of what we think of as museums and science centers in making such institutions ideally dynamic and effective in that it creates a product, talented leaders.