“We teach everything about cars from the basics — the systems, the brakes ... tools, safety and things like that all the way up to vehicle performance, like how to keep the fuel system and emission system from failing,” instructor Andy Lindman said. “We go all the way from one end of the car to the other.”
The campus offers two diploma certification programs and one associate’s degree program in automotive technology.
One of the first programs offered on the North Metro Campus, 119 students now take automotive technology and many classes are at capacity.
“We’re still trying to grow [the program],” instructor Eric Underwood said. “All of our other classes are not completely full yet.”
Lindman has been working in the industry for about 19 years.
“I started out changing oil and worked my way up to a service manager then found this [teaching] job and one of those things of being a service manager is teaching [employees],” he said.
Both instructors say student backgrounds are varied, with some students who have recently graduated high school and others returning from the workforce.
“We have a lot of students who are in their first year or two out of high school and they’ve always wanted to work with automotives — they’ve worked with their dad, the family owns a shop, they’re preparing to take over a family business or something like that, and they’re preparing for a full background, not just what they’ve learned through experience, but expand their knowledge,” Underwood said. “We also have the students who are changing careers, they’ve been laid off or haven’t seen the growth they’ve wanted in their career or they’re just not happy with what they’re doing, so they switch over.”
He said the program also draws older students as well.
“We also see people who are retired or near retirement and are just passionate about cars,” Underwood said. “They’re not interested in getting into the career aspect of it, but they want to know more about it as a hobby so when they go to their favorite repair place, they are more knowledgeable about the process.”
Both instructors said the program offers a variety of career options upon completion.
“Partially because of the way the curriculum is set up and partially because of the diverse faculty we have here across the three campuses, you would be able to go in as an advanced entry-level technician at a dealership or retail company,” Underwood said, adding some students have even found careers in the automotive insurance business. “There is a wide-range of careers, it’s not just going in and rotating tires and changing oil.”
Lindman said in his experience working for a Chrysler dealership, he would seek to hire applicants who have a formal background in automotive technology.
“Applicants who have gone through a college program seem to be better prepared for a work environment,” Lindman said.
The program also is available at the Appalachian and Marietta Campuses. For more information, visit www.chattahoocheetech.edu.