National Automotive Service Professionals Day is June 12th. As we wrap up our school year, CATEC is celebrating its Automotive Service Technology program, its graduates who will enter the community as technicians, and the local industry that supports CATEC’s program with guidance, employment opportunities, and equipment.
The Auto Service Technology program boasts a robust enrollment, with students earning up to 25 dual-enrollment college credits from Reynolds Community College in addition to their high school elective credits. Students earn college credits for curriculum that includes automotive systems, climate control, electricity, and engine repair, and braking systems. They can also earn up to 10 Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) industry credentials. ASE industry testing is specially designed to evaluate and certify students who are studying in the automotive service industry. The ASE Education Foundation, in partnership with career and technical education advocate SkillsUSA, developed the exams to help students access professional credentials. They are a first step for students interested in building a career as an automotive service professional because they earn their first industry-recognized certifications before graduating from high school. These credentials make CATEC Auto Service Technology students marketable to local shops both during and after graduation.
The Auto Service Technology program has developed close relationships with local industry. In November 2019, Jim Price Hyundai donated a 2016 Hyundai Tucson to the program. It has used the SUV to do hands-on projects, allowing students the access they need to rapidly-evolving automotive technology. Auto Service Technology instructor Matt Richardson says, “We have been able to look at the updated technology and features of a modern car. We have put ‘bugs’ in the car and students have figured them out using a scan tool. It has been a really great update for our program.” Malloy Ford donated an automotive twin post lift to the program in August 2019 as well. When Malloy Ford moved from its Pantops location to its new space, it donated the retired lift to the Auto Service Technology program. The year before, Malloy Ford gave the program two complete engines on which students will practice their skills taking apart the engines. Richardson says the new lift “brought real life experiences to students entering the automotive industry after graduation.”
CATEC’s Auto Service Technology program is in its second year of its five-year National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) accreditation. NATEF’s accreditation process is designed to evaluate the automotive service program’s structure, processes, resources, materials, and mission. Successful programs are built on collaboration between the instructor, industry experts, students, and community support. CATEC’s Auto Service Technology Advisory Board bridges the gap between real world industry needs and classroom curriculum.
This year, four local employers, including Malloy Ford, Price Kia, Piedmont Power, and Colonial Nissan participated in the program’s interview day in May 2021. Students were offered job shadow opportunities that can lead to employment opportunities over the summer. Additionally, two graduating Auto Service Technology students participated in CATEC’s third annual School-to-Work Signing Day event in May. Wade Walton interns at Piedmont Power and signed employment commitment to continue working at Piedmont Power. Tyler Morris interns at Malloy Ford and signed his commitment to continue working for Malloy Ford. On average, Virginia boasts a higher annual income for automotive service technicians than the national average with a projected 11% job growth.
CATEC is a regional technical education center that helps high school students and adults obtain the jobs they seek. Students have opportunities to practice hands-on and work-based learning activities alongside academically-driven curricula. CATEC prides itself on its built-in value, equity-based programs, and contribution to students' learning journeys.