Technician.Academy had the pleasure to present DSO training to the students of Frontier Community College this year. This program has become a premiere automotive program in Southern Illinois in a relatively short period of time. Frontier instructor Rodney Maxey started the program in 2003 and immediately worked towards getting the program NATEF-certified. Maxey transferred from a previous position with MOOG Suspension; he uses his vast experience in the industry to provide a real-world learning environment for students.
The area around Frontier Community College has experienced a progressive reduction in jobs due to a couple major manufacturing companies leaving the area. This has created an interesting dynamic of older individuals who are retraining for future careers and traditional students looking to go into the automotive industry. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the displaced workers that were enrolled in the automotive program. They were very excited about moving into the repair field and felt that they would have no problem finding a position.
Along with a typical group of 15-20 students enrolled in the associate’s degree program, Frontier also supports a dual-credit class that services local high school students. This program fills a void that was created when these high schools closed their individual automotive programs. By offering the dual-credit program to the local high school students, Frontier Community College administrators aid several of the students as they move into the college’s automotive program after their high school graduation.
Training with a New Direction
Due to a gracious donor, the program recently received a new electrical trainer. This new trainer is a double-sided lighting system that includes both a BCM controlled system and an older system design. With this upgrade to the electrical curriculum, the administration, along with guidance from the advisory board, chose to become a part of Snap-On’s NC3 program. This program provides an in-depth electrical training plan. Students are required to purchase a meter from Snap-On that can be used throughout the rest of their career. Once the student passes the electrical course, they receive a certification through the Snap-On program that will be advantageous when searching for a job position in the automotive industry.
One goal that has been set by Maxey and the advisory board is for the students to be ASE Certified before graduating from the program. The college has determined that this is important enough that they are funding the testing fees for each student. Many of the alumni have commented how thankful they were to have the opportunity to test and acquire their ASE certification before entering the industry.
The Value of an Advisory Board
The program at Frontier Community College has a very active and involved advisory board. It is made up of past graduates, local repair shops, parts store owners, retired drag racing professionals, and OE engineers. Because of this involvement and Maxey’s continued dedication, the program continues to flourish. An example of their impact can be seen in a recent donation by a regional OE vehicle manufacturer, who donated two vehicles to the college program. This was coordinated by one of the advisory board members that currently works for the OE manufacturer. These two vehicles are in different stages of assembly and cannot be licensed and driven on the road. These vehicles have been added to the already robust fleet of training vehicles.
Bang for the Buck
The Frontier Community College automotive program brings a great value for students and provides them with a solid foundation. This foundation helps each student successfully move into the automotive repair industry.
If you are interested in an automotive repair career no matter your age, be sure to search out a program like this. Programs like the Frontier Community College automotive program are a relatively low cost for the level of education you receive and is well worth it when you want a successful career in the automotive industry.