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Whether consumers are driving sports cars, hybrids, electric vehicles or motorcycles, there is always going to be a need for qualified automotive technicians.
And, Ohio Technical College (OTC), a Cleveland-based school providing technical training in a variety of transportation industries, is currently teaching 1,000 future techs how to service the many vehicles on today’s roads, as well as those still on the horizon.
To recognize their commitment to the industry, Chicago Pneumatic – a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of high-performance aftermarket tools, accessories and compressors – and Tomorrow’s Technician magazine have awarded Ohio Technical College as the 2009 School of the Year in the 2nd annual Tomorrow’s Technician/Chicago Pneumatic competition.
As the top school, Ohio Technical College received $10,000 worth of Chicago Pneumatic tools and an awards presentation at the school, among other prizes. OTC President Marc Brenner accepted the award from Beth Skove, publisher of Tomorrow’s Technician, during a May 7, 2009 awards event.
“We are extremely honored to receive the 2009 School of the Year award on behalf of our dedicated staff and hard-working students, who have all become a part of the OTC family,” said Brenner. “Our team is committed to providing students with the advanced education and specialized skills – such as our alternative fuel vehicle, high performance and power generator system courses – that will help lead the transportation industry into the future.”
Babcox Publications’ Tomorrow’s Technician magazine and Chicago Pneumatic created the School of the Year contest to recognize top technical colleges dedicated to innovative training programs that prepare students for real-world careers. Ohio Technical College was selected from more than 170 entries nominating 80 schools across the country.
“We had so many amazing entries into this year’s School of the Year competition that it was hard to narrow it down to the finalists,” said Skove. “What really made Ohio Technical College stand apart was the variety and innovation of their programs as well as the staff’s passion for their students. The OTC team doesn’t treat the college like a business; they treat it as an opportunity to inspire students to become leaders in our industry.”
Skove also pointed out that Ohio Technical College currently has 19 instructors, each boasting an average of 20 years experience, which is proof of their dedication to their selected fields.
“The instructors are great and they create a good working environment here at the school,” noted Cristian Porczan, an OTC student who started in the Automotive program last year. Originally from Romania, Porczan came to Ohio five years ago and decided to explore his interest in the automotive and engineering fields. “I like working on cars and I also really like the classroom instruction at OTC. My goal is to get into the BMW STEP program.”
As one of only eight BMW training centers in the country, the BMW Service Technician Education Program (STEP) class is one area that sets Ohio Technical College apart from other schools. Also setting the school apart, according to current student James Lee, was the size of the campus.
“This facility is three to four times larger than other schools I’ve looked at, and the breadth of programs was exactly what I was looking for,” said Lee, a Pittsburgh native who has already completed the Auto-Diesel program.
“Now I’m studying in the High Performance and Racing program because I like building race cars. Here at OTC, the teachers want us to know everything we can about a car, so we actually get to work in-depth with them, taking the cars apart and putting them back together.”
After he graduates this summer, Lee would like to stay at OTC to participate in the school’s three-month Custom Paint and Graphics program, which would allow him to secure side jobs painting cars and motorcycles.
A Milestone Year
In addition to the School of the Year award, 2009 also marks Ohio Technical College’s 40th anniversary. The family-owned school was founded in 1969 by Julius Brenner. It originally began as the Ohio Diesel Mechanics School, conducting six-week diesel training courses in Cleveland’s Warehouse District.
The school began hitting its many growth spurts in 1971 as the demand for diesel tech training grew at a rapid pace and students moved into a larger facility to accommodate proper equipment. From that day in the early 1970s, the school hasn’t stopped expanding, changing its name several times – first to the Ohio Diesel Technical Institute, then to Ohio Auto/Diesel Technical Institute and the Ohio Auto Diesel Technical College – before deciding on Ohio Technical College in September 1997 to reflect its mission to provide premier technical training in the world of modern mechanics.
As an Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) college, Ohio Technical College draws students from all over the country to study a wide variety of technician training programs in Automotive, Diesel, Auto-Diesel, Collision Repair, Classic Car Restoration, High Performance and Racing, Welding and PowerSport Technology as well as specialization in BMW, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Custom Paint and Graphics, CDL Truck Driver Training and Power Generator Systems.
“Ohio Technical College focuses on classroom training as well as hands-on training using the latest vehicles and equipment because it is important for our students to learn up-to-date, specialized skills so they can to graduate as an asset to the automotive industry,” Brenner said. “We’re not only proud of our students’ technical knowledge, we’re very happy about their professionalism and attitude as they start their careers.”
More than 190 full-time employees work at the college, which continues to expand its campus footprint by converting nearby buildings and houses into classrooms and parking lots. Most recently, the school’s branch campus PowerSport Institute (PSI) has moved into a 210,000-square-foot facility in nearby North Randall, Ohio, to provide technical training on motorcycles, snow-mobiles, personal watercraft, ATVs and more.
The partnership between Chicago Pneumatic and Babcox was built from a mutual desire to assist in the education of young technicians and to recognize the efforts of teachers, students and schools nationwide.
“The entries and finalist packages from across the United States blew us away with both their depth of information and originality in form,” said Jay Lewis, general manager for Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company, LLC.
“Ohio Technical College should be very proud of their achievement, which they won based on their distinctive programs, specialized training opportunities, dedicated teachers and administrators, and passionate students.”
In addition to the award presentation at Ohio Technical College, students and staff celebrated their win with automotive designer and TV personality Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks. Throughout the day, Evans – who has appeared on “Monster Garage,” “Pimp My Ride” and other TV series – answered student questions, participated in an interactive tire changing competition and signed autographs for students.
Evans has deep roots in the automotive repair industry. His father was a mechanic and shop owner in California, and Evans grew up in the shop fabricating, doing mechanical work and building hot rods. He later worked at his grandfather’s auto body repair shop before starting his own business.
The Tomorrow’s Technician and Chicago Pneumatic staffs extend their congratulations not only to Ohio Technical College, but to all the schools who participated in the School of the Year contest.