Automotive Technology Chairman Tim Dell has some solid advice for students wondering how their career will benefit from spending a few years in college.
"I tell students who go into our program that their opportunities are endless when it comes to where they want to work and live," Dell said. "This is the one job where you can literally show up in any town and there's a need."
Those students are continuing to look attractive to employers thanks to the quality of the program they're coming from. Just a few weeks ago, the Automotive Technology Department at Pittsburg State University was notified that its two-year automotive service technology program has once again been accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.
Accreditation by the organization is crucial, said Dell, because many automotive companies in the industry won't support or donate to programs that do not get the NATEF seal of approval.
Pitt State's program has received NATEF's highest recognition - master accreditation - for the past 26 years, meaning it has shown excellence in all eight categories: engine repair, automatic transmissions, manual transmissions, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical and electronic systems, heating and air conditioning, and engine performance.
Perry Cummins, an automotive technology professor at PSU, oversees responsibility for keeping the program accredited along with professors Trent Lindbloom and Steve Polley. Although accreditation comes around only every five years, the work of keeping the program on top is continuous.
"I work on the accreditation process constantly," Cummins said. "It's so important. If you attend an automotive expo, the first question they ask is if you're accredited. It means to employers that students are going through a program that meets the national standards as opposed to an internal curriculum."
Cummins said the evaluations by NATEF are extremely detailed, making certain programs have everything from the right tools to the correct processes in place. The organization sends teams to conduct on-site visits, examine the facilities, evaluate students as they work in the labs, and even speak with alumni. NATEF also requires that schools pass mid-term reviews of their programs.
"It's a rigorous thing. It takes you through the ringer," Cummins said. "But over the years it has grown to become the standard, and now we're seeing shops who will only hire NATEF-certified graduates. Support from industry means everything, so there are a lot of benefits to keeping your accreditation."
For more on the automotive service technology program, go to http://www.pittstate.edu/department/auto/two-year-auto/.
©2011 Pittsburg State University