Automotive mechanics students at Western Nevada College are acquiring the skills and credentials necessary to repair or service anything in an automobile. And they have the certifications to prove it.
Four WNC students recently passed all nine Auto Service Excellence national certification exams following a semester of auto mechanics classes at the E.L. Cord Auto Technology Center on the Carson City campus.
Michael Atkinson and Emmit Morris passed the ASE exams after being enrolled in accelerated classes this fall. That program was funded from a grant awarded under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, implemented by the U.S. Department’s Employment and Training Administration.
Alex Garic and Jacob Homer accomplished the same feat after taking the regular evening classes in auto mechanics.
For Morris, his success with the exams led to an employment opportunity. He’s now working as a full-time mechanic at an auto dealership because of the accelerated program and his nine certifications.
“If I didn’t take the class, I wouldn’t be working and I would still be in school,” Morris said. “Without the certifications, I wouldn’t have a job as a mechanic.”
“I was ecstatic, and I’m really proud of it,” said Atkinson of Carson City. “I really loved the class and was upset when it was over. I used all sorts of resources and just studied a lot.”
The 40 to 60 question exams covered suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, automatic transmission and trans axle, manual drive train and axles, heating and air conditioning, and maintenance and light repair.
Air conditioning wasn’t covered in WNC’s accelerated classes and maintenance and light repair wasn’t a specific area of study, but the four students were still able to master those subjects.
“This was the best group so far regarding success rate,” said WNC Automotive Technology instructor Jason Spohr.
The students passed at least four certification exams and 79 percent of all the exams they took, according to Greg Sly, a grant manager for WNC who proctored the ASE exams.
Atkinson said he hopes his success in the classroom is going to lead to a part-time mechanics position while he continues his schooling.
Students who didn’t pass all the ASE certification exams can retake them following a period of time that allows them to concentrate on studying the topics which gave them trouble.
Spohr said the electrical and engine performance are the most difficult areas of auto repair and “if the student passes those exams, that is what an employer would look for most.”
Morris’ success in passing the ASE certification exams also put more money in his pockets.
“If I didn’t pass all nine ASE tests, I would have started out making less money than I am now,” Morris said. “The more certified you are, the more money you make.”
WNC will again offer accelerated auto mechanics classes during the spring semester. They will meet for 14 weeks from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
“It’s amazing preparation for the students,” Spohr said.
Each class is worth three units, so students are going to earn 21 credits by the conclusion of the semester.
Atkinson said the pace of the accelerated classes was fine for him.
“Read your book, and ask as many questions as you can,” he advised.
Morris recommended the accelerated program because of the instruction he received.
“My advice would be to take the class; it is the best class I have taken and I learned so much being in there with Mr. Spohr,” Morris said. “He made the class more understandable and easy to comprehend.”
Since the specialized program provides more than 15 credits per semester, students will need to enroll in person on campus. They are required to meet with Spohr or WNC Continuing Education Coordinator Linda Whitehill prior to enrolling.
A new section of the accelerated auto mechanics classes will begin Tuesday, Jan. 20.