With that one statement, Cody Rochester, an automotive technology student at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center, pretty much summed up the need for career tech education as Alabama Career and Technical Education Month proceeds.
Instructor Larry Walker teaches engine performance, electronics, steering suspension, brakes and repair at CCCTC.
“We have a program the state pays for,” said Walker. “I can assign one student to engine repair, another to engine performance and another one on brakes, whatever they are enrolled in this semester. This course takes them through step by step. It is not just introductory there is some advanced level stuff they can also get to help them prepare for the hands on part.”
“We use electronic service information,” said Walker. “We have access to cars and trucks, when can go in from 1982 all the up to 2011-2012 and get all the information in these books. Students will be using this if they go to work for independent stores or Ford, GM or Chrysler, they have their own electronic service information dealer based. They will be using all of it.”
“When they come into the shop, they are getting hands on experience because they are doing service work for people in the county,” noted Brett Keasler, director, Cherokee County Career and Technology Center. “It gives them a little income into their classes, but also gives students hands on experience. They have the skills to do entry level mechanic work.”
Walker described an upcoming competition for some of his students.
“Students will compete against each other to see who gets to go to Wallace State next Wednesday for district competition,” said Walker. “For district competition I will have six different stations set up with judges at each station. They will have a sheet of paper giving them an assignment. What they will have to do at each station is parts identification. This will have all the parts names, they will take brakes off an axle, put them back on.”
Through these competitions, Walker said, there are a lot of scholarship opportunities with schools from other colleges recruiting students.
“Some go straight to a dealer when they finish our program,” said Walker. “Some go to postsecondary school.”
Some of Walker’s students shared their views on the automotive technology program.
Local students shared
“I have done it all my life,” said Austin Emmett, automotive technology student at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center. “I enjoy doing it.”
“I want to work on cars and truck,” said Chase Lancaster. “I signed up for the Army and I will be working on helicopters then.”
“This gives you hands on information,” noted Keasler. “What they have learned in the books, they are actually coming out here and doing it.”
“We want everybody to see what is going on at the career tech center and the great opportunities here,” said Keasler. “We need more people who are interested in learning career tech classes.”
“I knew what I wanted to do,” said Instructor Walker. “In fact, I didn’t even get to take automotive because those classes were full. So I took sheet metal welding machine shop. But all of those courses helped me in the technician field because you learn a lot of measuring and welding, you are always having to use torches to put things on cars. It is very beneficial.”
“They prepare people for entry level positions,” noted Keasler. “It prepares them if they want to go on and pursue a postsecondary school. If they decide later on ‘I am probably not going to do this for the rest of my life, but I want to get an engineering degree,’ what better preparation can you have for an engineering degree than taking career tech courses in school and learning hands on about what you are going to be designing or working on later. I know I have worked in a situation where I have worked with engineers and I wish they had some hands on experience. Sometimes they will design stuff that is just not practical.”
“Career Tech is for everybody,” said Keasler. “Career Tech is career preparation for everyone and that is what we want everybody to see. We have a young man who wants to join the Army and work on helicopters. We’ve got guys that want to go to Diesel College. What are your aspirations?”