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Automotive program earns national recognition, corporate contributions

Sun Advocate reporter

College of Eastern Utah automotive instructor demonstrates how an automatic transmission works using a cutaway teaching aide during an open house hosted by the automotive department at the college. The program was awarded with demonstration vehicles by DaimlerChrysler and Honda motor companies that will be used in training students enrolled in the training program.

College of Eastern Utah's automotive training department recently received a series of substantial contributions to its program.

Last fall, the program was ranked third in the nation for programs of its type by the Automotive Industry Planning Council.

Recent contributions to the program will add new training opportunities for students.

The department hosted an open house for members of the public to see what is available to the public on Tuesday.

Local elected officials, automotive professionals, suppliers, manufacturing agencies attended along with at least 200 members of the general public.

Utah Highway Patrol members stopped by and regional managers for local automotive businesses drove in from out of the area.

At the open house, instructor Stan Martineau exhibited the numerous awards the program has received along with two new training vehicles. DaimlerChrysler recently presented the program with a 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck and Honda presented the program with an 2004 Acura MDX.

Martineau said he requested the engine in the pickup be a diesel. He explained that he hopes to add a new training course to the current course offerings.The \program would focus on alternative fuels and serve a tri-state area.

Martineau said the approval process for the program is still in its preliminary stages, but the new vehicle may increase the programs likelihood of being approved as a training facility.

The Acura is a traditional combustion engine, but will give students training on current technology.

Martineau said that by the time many students enter the workforce, vehicles manufactured in recent years will be approaching higher miles.

As a result, the newest vehicles available now will be the vehicles students must become most familiar with in the field.

Martineau said both vehicles are complete with full optional accessories, such as a DVD navigation system, rear-view cameras and other features on the Acura.

Program instructors also demonstrated new teaching aids that have been added to the program in recent months. Automotive staff has built many of its own cutaway demonstration motors, transmissions and other automotive components. Normally costing thousands of dollars, the teaching aids were built using salvage materials the program already had available.

One of these new aids, an automatic transmission, comes as a result of a training certification the program received in December. Martineau said the new aids and certifications will allow him to expand the curriculum to areas not currently offered at the college.

He added that curriculum is also being developed for heating and air conditioning training, another area not taught presently.

Martineau said that changes to his curriculum come as part of industry demand. He explained that he strives to keep professionals involved in the program as students train.

One way he accomplishes this is through the method of administration of the final examination. Martineau said he enlists the assistance of various professionals in the automotive industry to administer portions of the test. Martineau himself, steps out of the classroom and allows the outside professionals to administer individual tests.

Further, Martineau said he is constantly updating his lesson plans to keep up with changes in technology and the interest and needs of students. If a particular class is not understanding a principal, Martineau may spend more time on it. As a result, every class of students gets training individualized for their needs.

The instructor also said he listens to feedback from automotive professionals. Those that administer the final exams and others in the field can report to Martineau the areas that they see more training is needed. In response, lesson plans are updated and curriculum is modified. This keeps the program current with the needs and trends of technology and other factors in the field.

Martineau said the program is in high demand. Last year, 280 students showed interest in taking courses at the college. However, only 16 openings were available for new students. This year, Martineau said he has pages of names already. He expects a similar situation this year, with many students desiring to enroll being turned away from the program.

In keeping with the mission of a community college, Martineau said he focuses on recruiting students from Carbon and Emery counties. While all students are evaluated based on the same requirements, the program seeks to bring more training to the region, rather than exporting that training to other areas.

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