By KAYLA J. MARSH
LINCROFT — Brookdale Community College will serve as the host to an Automotive Service and Technology open house at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 for those who are interested in a possible automotive career or learning how to work on a car.
The free open house will take place in Room 102 at the Brookdale Auto Tech Building, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft. Parking will be available in Lot 6.
“The open houses, we schedule because I have found that as beautiful as our facility is and as long as our program has been around, there are people who still don’t know that it is even here, which is amazing to me,” said Ivan Anderson, automotive program coordinator for the college.
“It’s a great program [and] what I like about it, is that … when the smoke clears, [students] have their skill level and they have a college degree, which is quite different than a lot of programs that are out there.”
Auto Tech is one of Brookdale’s oldest and most recognized career-training programs, providing the opportunity to start a new career in two years or less.
During the open house, attendees will be offered a guided tour of the automotive training facility, which includes a 12-bay training lab, professional grade classrooms that feature hydraulic lifts and industry-standard tools and equipment.
“Generally after the tour goes through, there is a tremendous mindset change because of how wonderful the place looks,” Anderson said. “Everybody opens up quite a bit during that process.”
During the open house, certified instructors will be on hand to discuss the college’s various automotive training programs.
“We have a General Technicians program, which is a two-year program,” Anderson said. “Students come in and they need no experience of any kind … we teach them from the very beginning.
“We do have students who come in with experience, and in the same settings, where we are starting from the beginning. They still gain tremendous amounts of information [and] it is pretty wild to see such a wide variety of skill levels and everybody very involved and active in the program.”
In the program, students learn everything from how to do an oil change, to rebuilding engines and transmissions and getting hands-on experience working with lifts to raise vehicles up in the classroom.
“When they are done with these two years, they are very capable … and become part of the automotive industry,” Anderson said.
“When they do graduate … they have their diploma and their … credentials and what works, too, is we have an agreement with Pennsylvania College of Technology where they take everything … and start there as a third-year student, so within two more years, they have a bachelor’s degree.
“Students have a really good future with starting at Brookdale and moving along.”
Pennsylvania College of Technology is located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The second two-year degree program offered is a partnership with General Motors where students enrolled spend half of each semester working at a local dealership or repair facility, earning a salary and professional experience while working toward their degree.
“What is great about that program, is that it is paired up with a paid internship, so students come in, and they have a much more concentrated time span because they are in the classroom for part of the semester and they’re working in a dealership for the remainder of the semester,” Anderson said. “They’ll be linked up with another technician in [the dealership] and while naturally in the beginning they’re learning their settings, as time goes on they’ll be able to start doing things.
“When they graduate, they have two years of hands-on experience in the field and the goal naturally is to have a dealership so smitten with them and impressed with them that they offer them a full-time job.
“You can’t have an automotive program and not have substantial hands-on … it’s where you can make mistakes, learn from them … and while it might be easier to give an answer, it is much more rewarding for [students] to come up with the answer themselves.”
The automotive program has been at the community college for years, and Anderson said he has seen many come through for a variety of reasons and is proud of all the things students are able to accomplish.
“There’s a lot of men in the program who don’t know why they are there and there are women who do the same,” he said. “They’re maybe there out of curiosity, and then there are people where it’s natural, where it’s meant for them.
“We also have some older people who come in and it’s a skill level you have forever … and can [help many] start a new life [and] reinvent [themselves].
“I think the greatest thing is having them tackle their own projects and then coming to us with questions and then working through them and seeing them walk out with a whole new level of understanding.”