Auto program students at NCC have an advantage
Recruiters, dealerships and repair facilitates can’t get trained auto technicians in the door fast enough. Right now, the technician demand is the highest it’s ever been, according to Rick Meyers, professor of automotive technology at Northampton Community College (NCC). “Chrysler alone is need of almost 5,000 technicians at their dealerships to replace retirees,” Meyers explains.
A big draw for dealerships to hire students trained at NCC is the emphasis on teaching new technology. “The industry is getting more and more technical, and car electronics and technology are advancing so fast. The modern car has over 40 computers that speak to each other. It's a network and a system. It's not just getting your hands dirty anymore. It's also physics, math, computer information, and more.”
The three sponsored auto programs at NCC are Mopar CAP (Chrysler and Fiat affiliate), GM ASEP, and Subaru U. The college’s global auto program is not manufacturer specific. Lastly, there is a one-year program for students to earn a specialized diploma in automotive technology instead of a two-year degree.
Each of the programs requires a practicum for the students, similar to an internship.
However, with this industry, many of the dealerships invest time and money into the students, with the expectation that they will hire the students once they graduate. “Some pay for housing, tuition, books, and a set of their own tools, but they expect that same investment in time back.”
As for the students, the choice to go with one of NCC’s auto programs is a no brainer. NCC is the most affordable option as compared to programs at UTI and ATC, for profit schools where you don’t get a degree at the end. With the degree, many credits transfer to four-year colleges or universities, where many program graduates go into business in order to open more doors to opportunity in automotive technology. The professors are all master certified automotive technicians, with many having dealership and foreman experience. Meyers even mentions that NCC’s Residence Halls are a big draw for students coming from out of state.
“The best part of the Mopar CAP program is that I am learning with other students that are as eager as I am to learn. Also, we have awesome professors, like Rick Meyers, who know trends in the industry. Their teaching style makes it easy to apply what we learn in the field,” Tucker Muffley, NCC automotive technology student, says.
If they choose to go into another field, their experience carries over into welding, plumbing, HVAC C, information technology, and more. In fact, all of the graduates are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licensed air conditioning technicians when they leave NCC.
The second oldest program with a Fiat Chrysler auto partnership, Mopar CAP at NCC has a lot to offer their students including an exciting recruiting event. At the Maple Grove Raceway Drag Racing Event in Reading on September 13 of this year, five students had the opportunity to mingle with industry reps, dealership personnel, and team drivers. The Mopar CAP sponsored drag racing teams invited students from five colleges to come out to an event where NCC brings students to help them get hired.
“The students have a meet and greet with the racing teams. Drivers even get up and talk about what it means to be on their team. They talk about how they’re always looking for resumes of qualified graduates ready to join their team. So, you never know. we could see our students on a big one-million-dollar team one day," says Meyers.
“I enjoyed meeting with recruiters from other dealerships, getting the chance to take a close look at the drag cars, and speaking with the crew members of the drag teams. It was a great experience, and it helped reinforce my love of cars and all things automotive,” said NCC automotive technology student, Nathan Bender.
Professor Meyers, joined by Automotive Technology Professor Kevin Casey, sent students on a scavenger hunt at this year’s recruiting event. Their mission was to collect a certain number of business cards and engage with the professionals in order to win prizes like hats, t-shirts, and gas cards. Meyers says that the most exciting part is, “just watching the students. They see what goes on in a dealership, but they don't get to see something this big with factory representation.”
What sets NCC automotive students apart from the rest? "In two years, when our students graduate, they know level two technician training. That saves dealerships so much money in training and students get the credits in their back pocket for future programs or degrees," says Meyers.