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It used to be the case that people could learn to work on cars simply by tinkering with their own and by talking to others with more experience in automobile repair. That level of expertise could potentially lead to a successful career in auto services. Those days no longer exist. Now, even an entry-level job in automotive repair requires specialized certification. It is for that reason that the Waubonsee Automotive Technology Program exists.

Waubonsee Offers Opportunities for Auto Tech Students

Photo of Auto Tech Program students
Students in the Waubonsee Automotive Technology Program are part of an award-winning program that leads to careers in a wide array of specialties in the auto industry.

It used to be the case that people could learn to work on cars simply by tinkering with their own and by talking to others with more experience in automobile repair. That level of expertise could potentially lead to a successful career in auto services. Those days no longer exist. Now, even an entry-level job in automotive repair requires specialized certification. It is for that reason that the Waubonsee Automotive Technology Program exists.

Students who study automotive technology at Waubonsee are part of an award-winning program that leads to careers in a wide array of specialties in the industry. The program, faculty and—most importantly—the students are nationally recognized as some of the best in the trade.

As with any education program, students in the Automotive Technology Program have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in classrooms and the college’s automotive shop.

These students also have the opportunity to be recognized for their own excellence in the craft outside the classrooms, even before graduating. Waubonsee students regularly compete in state and national skills competitions. These events give students the opportunity to demonstrate expertise, as well as connect with other students and industry leaders from across the region and country.

“The automotive tech faculty take exceptional interest in students. They take time to help students build character and give them information on making you employable. It is not just about the knowledge and skills needed for the automotive technology industry,” said Jim Hill, a graduate of the program.

In addition to the skills competitions, Waubonsee students have the opportunity to take advantage of a unique program that puts their training to use at Yellowstone National Park. Through a long-standing relationship with the head of the Yellowstone Park Services Student Program, Waubonsee students are regularly hired for summer automotive repair work on National Park Service vehicles while living and working in and experiencing the grandeur of the park.  

Of course, one of the most important parts of any education program is the ability to work in the field upon completion. Graduates of Waubonsee’s Automotive Technology Program regularly get jobs as technicians in automobile dealerships, independent service shops, auto parts stores, and as instructors in area high school vocational programs and career centers.

Last August, the college finalized a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) that established Waubonsee as a Mopar Career Automotive Program Local training site. Through the advanced training provided by this partnership, students are certified as Level 1 Technicians upon graduation and are on a path to employment in FCA dealerships.

“Waubonsee is a facilitator of opportunities for students. Ultimately, this certification helps the college help students gain employment,” said Ken Kunz, Professor of Automotive Technology.

According to Jeffrey Kuester, the Performance Institute Mopar CAP Local Manager, FCA will need 5,500 new auto technicians by the end of 2018 and by 2024 the auto industry will need 780,000 new technicians. Waubonsee’s partnership with FCA qualifies people to fill those positions and begin working in the industry as quickly and with as little cost as possible.

Another example of how partnerships contribute to student success in this program, Hyundai Motor America has invested heavily in Waubonsee’s Automotive Technology Program by donating vehicles, tools, parts and equipment to enhance the educational experience. This partnership also helps students build their network of industry experts and leaders and leads to employment and advanced training opportunities.

“Our industry is changing every day, but the bottom line is we will all continue to want transportation on a daily basis, whether it be our own vehicle, an Uber-type mode of transportation or an autonomous vehicle. These modes of transportation will need to be maintained and repaired and the students we teach today will probably be the people who will provide these to the consuming public,” said Hugh Beattie, Senior Group Manager of Regional Parts and Service at Hyundai Motor America.

The Automotive Technology Program partnership with Hyundai is an example of the strong community involvement that contributes to student success.

“I believe it is very important for us… to be in front of these young students so that we can understand where they are coming from and we can assist in preparing them for their future careers in whatever capacity we have available,” added Beattie.

The Automotive Technology Program is fully accredited and nationally certified for training automotive technicians. Students can earn an Associate in Applied Science degree in either Automotive Transportation Service Technology or Automotive Technology. Students can also earn certificates of achievement in seven different specialties. The Automotive Technology Program prepares students to pass a variety of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Foundation certifications.

“We feel our program’s vision and mission takes to heart the core values of the college in a way that transforms the college’s values of quality, innovation, value, service and accessibility into meaningful, definable actions where the student is the first priority,” said James Armitage, Professor of Automotive Technology.

Photo of Auto Tech Program student