“We’re thrilled to be named the 2016 School of the Year,” said Ronald Raines, automotive department chair and instructor at Ranken. “We are incredibly proud of the program we’ve built here at Ranken, and our diligent, determined students set themselves apart in this industry.”
Based in St. Louis, MO, Ranken is the ninth recipient of the annual program to find and name the best technical training school in the country. WIX and O’Reilly Auto Parts are title sponsors of the national award in conjunction with Tomorrow’s Tech.
“Ranken Technical College really impressed us this year,” said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX Filters. “The school has a robust automotive program, and we could tell from their submissions just how passionate they are about what they do. We’re excited to see what this program and its students continue to accomplish.”
“This is one of our favorite times of the year,” said Dean Martin, publisher of Tomorrow’s Tech. “It’s always been our goal, along with the contest’s sponsors, to recognize the skills and knowledge future automotive service technicians are taking with them into the field, and Ranken is a shining example of such a program.”
Developing Tomorrow’s Technicians
Ranken features 100,000 square feet of dedicated shop space, with six automotive degree programs: Automotive Collision Repair Technology, Automotive Maintenance Technology, Professional Technician Program, Certified Dealership Technician Program, Diesel Technology and High Performance Racing Technology.
Ranken Technical College is a private, nonprofit, degree-granting institution of higher learning with a mission to provide the comprehensive education and training necessary to prepare students for employment and advancement in a variety of technical fields.
One of Ranken Technical College’s philosophies is that the best way to prepare students for success in the real world is to begin treating them as professionals from day one. At Ranken, this means for each hour of classroom instruction, the students spend at least three hours in a lab or shop setting, becoming proficient in the skills they need to excel in their careers. Each student spends an average of 15 hours a week doing hands-on work with the guidance of the school’s expert instructors. With this extensive practical experience, Ranken graduates are fully equipped for successful careers.
“We are constantly striving to develop a new technician,” said Craig Poe, automotive instructor at Ranken. “And we’re not doing that based on what yesterday’s technician was, we’re doing it based on what the industry has told us they need.”
The St. Louis campus has operated in the same location for more than a century. The facilities reflect that history while blending in contemporary buildings with cutting-edge equipment, including the Mary Ann Lee Technology Center, which offers modern shops, classrooms and spaces for campus events. Recent renovations to the Rodenheiser Automotive Center give students in the Automotive Division access to tools and equipment in up-to-date shops.
Ranken also includes a Wentzville, MO, location, which in its first year of operation surpassed the college’s five-year enrollment goals. Now the Wentzville campus is expanding its facilities in order to serve more students in the area.
Skills for the Real World
Employers look to Ranken Technical College as a source for new employees. Industry leaders know that the school’s curriculum provides Ranken graduates with the skills, knowledge and abilities necessary to succeed in almost any job setting. However, employers also want their employees to be more than well-educated technicians. Employers consistently rank positive work values, attitudes and behaviors as essential to the retention and promotion of their employees.
“We’re constantly teaching the work ethic and helping the student develop that,” Poe continued. This includes showing up on time, as well as having pride in what they do and can accomplish. “As faculty, we try to be examples of those traits so they can see it in action.”
Ranken is a non-profit school, so the money they receive gets invested into the faculty, their training, the facility and new equipment.
Poe noted the school has great working relationships with manufacturers, tool and equipment companies, as well as OEMs, local dealership and local independent repair facilities.
Earnings & Accolades
As the 2016 School of the Year, Ranken Technical College received a $2,500 donation to the school’s automotive technology program from WIX Filters, merchandise from O’Reilly and WIX Filters, and travel for the school’s instructor and a guest to Las Vegas to attend Babcox Media’s recognition dinner at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX).
At the recognition dinner Oct. 31 in Las Vegas, Ranken was presented with the School of the Year trophy and Raines was also awarded Instructor of the Year.
Over the following days, Raines and a team from Ranken visited companies’ booths at the AAPEX and SEMA trade shows, where they made many contacts of value to the Automotive Division and the school, Raines said. “I think I would like to go back every year to build more relationships to benefit the college.”
The School of the Year Contest
The School of the Year program is open to all high schools and post-secondary schools that have a subscription to Tomorrow’s Tech magazine. Of the 140 entries for this year’s contest, 60 were from different high schools, technical schools and colleges in four geographic regions of the United States. Twenty schools were asked to submit a video highlighting their technical programs. Judges selected four finalists, or one from each region, from the video entries.
This year’s three runners-up are:
Automotive Training Center, Warminster, PA;
Southern Illinois University Automotive Technology, Carbondale, IL, and
Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD.
Each runner-up will receive a professional automotive tool set and $250 gift card from O’Reilly Auto Parts.