MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee is known for motorcycles and Harley-Davidson. That's obvious. But now, the younger generations are beginning to embrace that passion for motorcycles in a very hands-on way.
Since 2011, teams of students from the greater Milwaukee area have been participating in the Build Moto Mentor program. During a 120 day period, students from various schools deconstruct and reconstruct a motorcycle donated by Harley-Davidson or Royal Enfield. By doing this, they learn skills like welding, construction, how to balance a budget, business promotion, social media, fundraising and more.
"Just builds life skills to manage money to promote the product to get other experiences other than what they might see otherwise," Steve Agg, the mentor for the Oak Creek High School team said.
In 2018, Build added a new team that wasn't necessarily affiliated with a school. The Iron Angels, an all-women team, was formed. It's designed to promote women in STEM fields. It's comprised of young women from all around the Milwaukee area.
"It's about wrenching and learning how to rebuild this motorcycle, but there's so much more to that. And women can be engineers. They can be part of tech careers, and we can perform just as well in any career," Corrine Wolff, the mentor for the Iron Angels said.
This year the team's bike was so well put together that they have been invited to display their motorcycle at one of the largest motorcycle gatherings in the world, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
"It will be part of an art show Maiden Moto, which is an all female sponsored group ,and then the Biker Belles bike show as well," Wolff said.
It's a confidence booster to other women like 18-year-old Phoebe Wible.
"Fun to see and have it solidified that women can do about the same if not more than the men," she said.
This was her first year with the team. She said she enjoyed working on the bike and exploring different parts of the process from the business end to the labor side.
"I’m a very hands on kind of person and it was a chance to get creative, get my hands dirty, and just kind of meet people who are like minded and creative," she said.
In addition to the Iron Angel's success, the team from Oak Creek High School has been invited across the country to display its bike.
"Most recently the Fuel Cleveland show. We’ve been invited to the Handbuilt show in Austin, Texas, and our projects have been on display at the Kansas City Auto and Motorcycle Museum," Agg said.
To either be a mentor for one of these teams or get involved as a student, go to the organization's website.