CRYSTAL LAKE – Students at Prairie Ridge High School looked at one another, eyebrows raised, as the engine of a black 2014 Porsche revved impressively in front of the school.
Friday's large-scale show-and-tell was part of an all-day visit from Porsche North America. Three representatives who work for or with the company spent the day giving presentations about Porsche and what it's like to work there to about 400 Prairie Ridge freshmen through seniors. An effort of the school's division of industry and careers, the presentations were geared toward students in engineering, design, marketing and business classes, teacher Kevin Koeppen said.
"Our goal in the division [of industry and careers], is to expose students to as many career opportunities as possible so they have a clear understanding of what's ahead of them," said Koeppen, who's also the division's leader.
Junior Tori Colthurst said she enrolled in Introduction to Engineering Design to test the industry's waters while she's still young.
"I've always heard engineering is a great field to go into, especially for women, so I thought I'd try it out," Colthurst said. "So far, I like it a lot. And I think I'm learning a lot."
During Friday's presentation, the 16-year-old said she learned a few generalities, such as the emerging prevalence of hybrid vehicles, but it was the exposure to a well-known company that offered true insight.
"It definitely makes things seem more realistic," Colthurst said about Porsche being there. "More than just the everyday sitting in a classroom."
For Porsche North America, the visit was part of a community outreach initiative, Area Marketing Manager for Porsche North America Brynnen Crosson said.
"We wanted to give kids an idea of what the automotive industry is like, and hopefully inspire someone to follow in our tracks, too," she said.
But the lessons went beyond automotives and into general lessons for starting a career.
Crosson, along with Jamie Kaplan of Porsche North America's ad agency Cramer-Krasselt, covered topics from how to identify a business casual dress code to the importance of social media self awareness.
The experience was one of many orchestrated by the school to help students uncover potential college majors and future careers, Koeppen said.
"When [students] go off to college, they're going to be spending big money, or their families will," he said. "So we want to make sure they understand what it is they want to do and have a clear vision of that prior to leaving high school."