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School of the Year

Automotive Repair Shops Urged to Nominate Schools for 2010 SOTY Contest

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Giving Some ‘Extra Credit’ to Deserving Schools

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by Ed Sunkin, Editor, Underhood Service magazine

The automotive aftermarket is of vital importance to our nation. The future of our survival depends on those being trained to service vehicles. Not just the cars on the road today, but the pre-OBD vehicles of the past, as well as the high-tech vehicles of the future that will include more electronics, computers and even alternative fuel systems.

We all know it takes a lot to be an automotive technician. It takes drive, ambition, a strong work ethic, problem-solving techniques and an ability to work with your hands, not to mention a large investment in tools and education.

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(A recent Babcox study of automotive technicians showed that 30% graduated from a technical or post-secondary school. Nearly 15% of respondents said they attended a college, and 9% graduated from college.)

Now, within our magazine and on our websites (www.underhoodservice.com andwww.autocarepronews.com), you’ll see winners of  various automotive awards and scholarships. As a member of this industry, we are proud to recognize those who have achieved various distinctions.

Which is why I wanted to inform you about another award — one that is presented to the top automotive training schools. Now entering its third year, Tomorrow’s Technician magazine, along with third-year co-sponsor Chicago Pneumatic and first year co-sponsor WIX Filters, have joined forces to recognize the top schools in the nation.

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As the editor of Tomorrow’s Technician, I get to visit many of these schools across the country and meet some of the industry’s brightest future technicians. And, most of these students credit their automotive instructors as the reason they plan to work in the automotive field.

Those of you shop owners and technicians who have served on a school advisory committee or board know what I’m talking about. Today’s automotive classes aren’t filled with the school’s goof-offs or underachievers as in years before. Most of the students we see are hard workers who have a desire to learn about vehicle technology and how to repair these cars, trucks and agricultural equipment.

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In meeting with North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) instructors at their annual conferences and trade shows, I find that their automotive coursework is much harder these days
compared to when I was in a vocational program nearly 25 years ago.

As a shop owner who hires technicians, you see first-hand the readiness of today’s graduating workforce. This is why we feel you would be a good candidate to nominate a high school or post-secondary trade school as having the top school automotive program in the nation.

Maybe you attended this school years before or work on its advisory committee today. Or, maybe your son or daughter is taking automotive courses at this school that you feel is tops. Or, this school is in your community and you have hired techs from its past graduating classes.

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Regardless of the reason, we urge you, owners and operators of independent repair shops, to nominate a school. Simply go to www.ttschooloftheyear.com and complete the short form. That school will automatically be nominated and notified of the nomination.

The contest is open to any school — high school or post-secondary — that currently has a subscription to Tomorrow’s Technician, either in print or online, and is NATEF certified.

Instructors and administrators from past winners of the award, Ohio Technical College (OTC), Cleveland, OH (2009 winner) and Waubonsee Community College (WCC), Sugar Grove, IL, (2008 winner), said just being recognized as “School of the Year” was in itself an honor among so many schools in the nation.

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But finalists each year share in a total prize package from contests sponsors. Last year, Chicago Pneumatic provided $25,000 worth of tools and equipment to the winning school and three finalists. That’s a big boost to a school’s tool crib in times when equipment budgets are getting slashed.

So take a few minutes to nominate who you think is a top school in the nation. This is your chance to
provide some “extra credit” to a deserving school.

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