Penn State celebrates new Axalta partnership with visit from Jeff Gordon

April 15, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State welcomed four-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jeff Gordon to campus on April 14 to kick off a partnership between the University and Axalta Coating Systems. The celebration also included the unveiling of a special paint job on Gordon's No. 24 car in Penn State blue and white. 

The partnership between Penn State and Philadelphia-based Axalta, a leading manufacturer of liquid and powder coatings, is designed to drive awareness and support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and business education.

"Helping students toward career success is of critical importance to the Penn State experience, and partnerships such as this are another way of giving our students special, hands-on opportunities to learn about their fields of study and the job market."

— Penn State President Eric Barron

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and spectators came out to welcome Penn State President Eric Barron, Axalta representatives and Gordon in celebration of the partnership, which will offer new educational opportunities to students in engineering and business disciplines. 

"Helping students toward career success is of critical importance to the Penn State experience, and partnerships such as this are another way of giving our students special, hands-on opportunities to learn about their fields of study and the job market," Barron said. 

Charlie Shaver, chairman and CEO of Axalta, added, "It is crucial to many industries, including Axalta's, to have access to skilled engineers and business leaders, and Penn State is providing the specialized programs needed to prepare them for the future."

Shaver says he's excited for the partnership's opportunity to show the impact of engineering and business on racing. 

"I have a personal drive to recruit the best and brightest people and get them excited about what we do for a living," he said.

Select students in Penn State's College of Engineering and Smeal College of Business will receive special learning opportunities with Gordon and his team at Pocono Raceway. The contingent of students will be on hand at the raceway during the weekend of June 6, where they will have a chance to tour the garages and learn more about the technology of the cars.

"It is crucial to many industries, including Axalta's, to have access to skilled engineers and business leaders, and Penn State is providing the specialized programs needed to prepare them for the future."

— Axalta Chairman and CEO Charlie Shaver

In addition, they'll attend a presentation session with Gordon's crew chief, Alan Gustafson, and have dinner with Axalta executives and Gordon. 

"This kind of exposure definitely adds to the value of STEM education, and unique experiences such as these are what make college life come alive," said Olga Vinogradova, a chemical engineering major who landed the opportunity to ride in the car with Gordon on his tour through campus.

NASCAR legend debuts Penn State inspired car on the streets of campus

The rumble may have sounded like an F-15 taking off, but for those who were in attendance at the unveiling of the No. 24 car it was much more. Multiple Sprint Cup champion and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon visited the University Park campus to announce the partnership between Penn State, Axalta and the Gordon race team that will result in, among other things, a race car dressed in official Penn State blue and white along with the Penn State name painted on the car. Gordon treated the excited crowd to a demonstration of the car by touring the vehicle on Curtin Road by the Bryce Jordan Center before arriving at the creamery.

C Roy Parker

Vinogradova and her fellow participants will be able to experience up-close the impact engineers have on racing and will receive insights and firsthand perspectives from business leaders.

"Supporting STEM education and future business leaders is vital to our future. I'm proud to partner with Axalta and Penn State on this exciting program," said Gordon. 

A four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, three-time Daytona 500 winner and five-time Brickyard 400 champion, Gordon has also been a champion of STEM education for many years. 

"Supporting STEM education and future business leaders is vital to our future. I'm proud to partner with Axalta and Penn State on this exciting program."

— NASCAR great Jeff Gordon

Attending college is a valuable experience, he said -- one through which students can build both skill sets and relationships. 

"There's a lot of bright futures around here," he said to the crowd gathered at the Berkey Creamery celebration on April 14. "I couldn't be more thrilled to carry that unique blue on the No. 24 race car." 

The blue and white car will also be on display at the Nittany Lions' Blue-White game on Saturday, April 18. 

Last Updated December 14, 2015