ATC Spotlight

Automotive service pros share expertise with college program

Automotive service pros share expertise with college program graphicWriter: Don Nelson

Several Athens automotive repair professionals recently met at Athens Technical College to hear updates on the Automotive Technology program at the college and to offer industry insight.

Jeff Hill, Automotive Technology program chair, and Craig Copeland, Automotive Repair instructor, welcomed members of the Automotive Technology Program Advisory Committee. Established to provide insights on the latest trends in automotive repair and service, the committee also shares ideas on best practices in the profession and offers suggestions for enhancing training in the Automotive Technology program. The gathering was held April 29 in the Automotive Technology facility and lab on the Athens Campus.

Members attending the meeting included Dennis Schilling, shop foreman with Mercedes-Benz of Athens; David Barrick, owner of Carroll’s Engine Rebuilders; Peter Haughton, co-owner of Japanese Motor Works; Durwood Simpson, head technician at Japanese Motor Works; and Dixon Collins, owner of Dixon’s Automotive.

Hill reviewed the college’s mission statement, warranty of graduates and the program’s work ethics policy. In providing an overview of his program’s work ethics policy, Hill noted that instructors emphasize the importance of effective communication, regular attendance, productivity, organizational skills, cooperation, maintaining a good attitude and proper appearance, and respect.

Haughton recommended instructors stress the importance of shop productivity to students and suggested including the request for parts by the 1/3 time portion of the repair. Hill responded that in the lab such practice is sometimes difficult as much work is performed on school trainer vehicles, so parts are not actually replaced. Hill said he would try to incorporate this measure into the live work projects.

The Advisory Committee also heard about the program’s accreditation through the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). This accreditation ensures the training facility has the most current equipment and curriculum, and that all instructors have the required training and certifications. Hill explained that the Athens Technical College Automotive Technology program is master certified, meaning the program is certified in all eight areas of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The Automotive Technology program has benefitted from donations and grants in the past several months. Hill noted the program now has 15 operating vehicles given by private donors to use in training. Grants through the Perkins fund of the United States Department of Education provided money for parts washers, battery testers, charging stations, lift racks, and drill presses.

Hill spoke about the recent Snap-On Tools training held on campus. Committee members commented about the prospect of attending future events. Haughton mentioned that he would like to see a training class covering the Picoscope, a digital oscilloscope. Copelan commented that this is the type of training opportunities the automotive program could offer to area shops there is enough interest.

A tour of the Automotive Technology shop and tool rooms concluded the Advisory Committee meeting. During the tour, Hill showed off new equipment that had been installed. The group discussed future tool and equipment purchases and improvements to the shop. Haughton made several recommendations including purchasing a powertrain lift table to help with the removal and replacement of engines and transmissions; seeking shelving for the tool room; and switching drop light bulbs from incandescent to fluorescent or LED.

Photo caption: Athens Technology Automotive Technology program chair Jeff Hill, far left, points out some the new features and equipment in the shop to advisory board members, left to right, Durwood Simpson, Peter Haughton, David Barrick, Collins Dixon and Dennis Schilling.

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Sherry Abrams