Program offers hands-on car training


Victoria Truesdale

Two automotive technology students working on a project in Automotive Professor Michael Pereira’s class. Pereira is one of the professors involved in the Ford ASSET program.

The Automotive Mechanics Technology program utilizes traditional teaching methods and industry partnerships to give students a foundation in the automotive industry.

In addition to offering general and specialized training certificates, the program also offers a partnership with Ford Motor Company that includes work experience at a Ford dealership.

“We’re focused on the technical and the mechanical side of it,” said Department Chair and Automotive Technology Professor Brian Noel. “So, basically diagnosis or repair and maintenance of any of the major systems of the vehicle.”

The program and instructors are certified by the Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that ensures that automotive education holds up to current industry standards.

The program involves a lot of hands-on, practical training.

Many of the certificates offered are specialized certificates that focus on specific parts of a vehicle such as the engine or the brakes. The majority of the certificates have counterparts in the Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training program.

“One of my favorite things about automotive in general is that technology is constantly evolving and constantly changing,” Noel said.

Noel said he’s hoping for greater awareness of the program.

Department Dean Ashu Mishra said she advocates for career education and has noticed it’s become more popular with students.

“The state allocates funding to a lot of career education programs,” Mishra said. “It’s being more widely recognized than traditional academia.”

As of the 2020-2021 school year, 59% of students in Career Technical Education programs in California went on to postsecondary education, according to an article published by the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

Mishra said she wants to focus on diversifying the program.

“One of the things that I really want to focus on is the gender disparity that we have in the program,” Mishra said.

Women accounted for 2.5% of all employed automotive technicians in the year 2021, according to an article published by the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

Nineteen-year-old automotive technology major Justin Yebra said he joined the program due to his passion for the industry and a desire to learn more.

“I’ve always had a passion for cars since I was younger,” Yebra said.

Completing the degrees in the program also means completing an Automotive Service Excellence certified Master Automotive Service Technology program, qualifying them to become technicians in the industry.

“I want to do something in the racing industry and I didn’t know a lot about cars, so I decided to do the automotive program here to get the basics down,” said 19-year-old automotive technology major Nicholas Jensen.

Jensen said the program has helped his future and aspirations to work in NASCAR.

Both Noel and Mishra said they want to develop more industry partnerships for the students in the program.

“We have instructors who are very, very dedicated to the program,” Mishra said. They not only bring their expertise in the industry, they are also very student-oriented.”