HomeCar CultureLifestyleSEMA teams with high school students for custom Jeep build

SEMA teams with high school students for custom Jeep build


How many high school kids get to build their own extreme-custom show Jeep, with the help of SEMA, no less?  That’s the project at the Santa Fe, New Mexico, ECO Auto Tech School, where the students are working on a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited as part of their course work. 

The Specialty Equipment Market Association along with more than 20 sponsors donated the Jeep, special parts, supplies and hands-on instruction for the magnet-school project, which began in late 2017.  The custom build is nearing completion and will be auctioned June 19-June 26, which will provide funds for next year’s student build in a self-sustaining program. 

Jeep, SEMA teams with high school students for custom Jeep build, ClassicCars.com Journal
The planned look for the finished Jeep

“We partnered up with SEMA, which is just a huge opportunity for us, the school and the community,” Chris Coriz, instructor for the class at the Santa Fe Early College Opportunities Applied Science Magnet School, said in a video on the project’s website.  “We had been talking for about a year about how we could come up with something new and innovative to help students and just keep the auto industry rolling.”

SEMA and supporters of the Jeep project are hoping other schools could initiate similar build programs. 

“If successful, this program model can be expanded into auto-tech programs around the country, introducing young people to cool cars and trucks, automotive specialty equipment and potential careers in this segment of the industry,” SEMA said in a news release.

One of the sponsors, Jeremy Headlee of ICON Vehicle Dynamics, recently visited the Santa Fe high school to tour the facility and meet with the students.

 “The Jeep build created excitement with the students, who were engaged, answering my questions, and asking some of their own,” Headlee said. “These students represent the fuel that will keep the industry pushing forward, and the program demonstrates to young people that they can make a living doing something they love.”

For a full list of the Jeep project sponsors and other information, visit the program website

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


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