Owensboro, KY, Technical Program Recognized as Seventh-Annual Recipient of National Award for Automotive Education Excellence
Owensboro Community & Technical College in Owensboro, KY, was named the 2014 Technical School of the Year by Tomorrow’s Tech magazine and WIX Filters during a surprise ceremony in October for 100 students and instructors of the college’s Automotive Technology program.
OCTC is the seventh recipient of the annual program to find and name the best technician training school in the country.
WIX and O’Reilly Auto Parts are title sponsors of the national award in conjunction with Tomorrow’s Tech and Red Kap, a supplier of work wear apparel.
“Owensboro Community & Technical College is a great example of an educational institution that is focusing on the future of an entire industry,” said Mike Harvey, brand manager for WIX Filters.
“Specializing in automotive technology, diesel and alternate fuels, OCTC is exactly what we envisioned when we started the School of the Year competition – a highly skilled technical program dedicated to training the next generation of technicians.”
Owensboro Community & Technical College is a public, two-year, open admissions college accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is one of the 16 colleges that make up the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS).
The college values innovation, is focused on student learning, and is responsive to economic trends.
Most OCTC students are from the counties of Daviess, Ohio, Hancock and McLean in Kentucky, but many others travel from elsewhere in the state and southern Indiana, attracted by the Advanced Technology Center and other distinctive programs.
The school’s auto/transportation industry programs are focused on four areas:
- Diesel; and
- a new Alternative Fuels program.
According to judges for this year’s contest, it was the schools’ progressive efforts toward becoming a leader in alternative fuels education that helped solidify their spot as the top school in the nation for 2014.
“We’re not resting on what the technologies of today are, we’re looking forward, we’re looking toward alternative fuel technologies and the future of automotive,” said Dr. Jim Klauber, president of OCTC.
Recently, OCTC was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the amount of $745,602 for support of a project entitled “Preparing Vehicle Technicians for Advanced Transportation Fuels.”
The project, under the direction of OCTC’s Southeastern Campus Director Mike Rodgers, and automotive instructor Keith Nall, began September 1 and runs through August 31, 2017.
Partners in the program represent industry, government, and nonprofit organizations: ATech, Atmos Energy, ConsuLab, Cummins Crosspoint, Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence, Kentucky Propane Gas Association, Kentucky Soybean Board and Association, Kentucky Propane Education and Research Council and Owensboro Grain Company.
Klauber said the grant project demonstrates the potential to benefit society by preparing the 21st century workforce in Kentucky and the nation to be knowledgeable of the evolving technologies transforming the transportation industry by providing training in advanced transportation technologies and alternative fuels to community college students in OCTC’s automotive and diesel technology training programs.
It also benefits exposing high school students, particularly those underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), to the high-tech field of automotive and diesel technology through summer academy offerings, thus promoting a pipeline of diverse technicians.
The alternative fuel program is designed to provide training, leading to an industry-endorsed certification in alternative fuels technologies to current workers employed in transportation industries in Kentucky, as well as provide training in the automotive and diesel technician industry for high school and two-year college instructors who teach in STEM areas. The grant also is expected to promote increased public engagement and awareness of science and technology used in the transportation industry to citizens in Kentucky and surrounding states through hosting a National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Odyssey.
“This is the first program that we know of in the country to offer all the alternative fuel options which will allow the students to develop the advanced skill set needed for success in the transportation industry today,” said Rogers.
Recognition and Gifts
As the 2014 School of the Year, Owensboro Community & Technical College’s automotive program received:
- $2,500 donation to the school’s Automotive Technology program from WIX Filters.
- A uniform for every student from Red Kap;
- Merchandise from O’Reilly and WIX Filters.
- Travel for the school’s instructors to Las Vegas to attend Babcox Media’s recognition dinner at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX).
“We pride ourselves on building an automotive program that provides our students with the skills and advanced training necessary for careers in an industry that is constantly evolving,” said Nall, who serves as the automotive and diesel program coordinator at OCTC. “Being named School of the Year is an incredible honor and we’re thrilled to share this with our students and our school.”
Rogers said the automotive industry is changing rapidly and he believes that skilled automotive technicians who train at OCTC are in the driver’s seat in today’s job market.
“Receiving this award says a lot of about the quality of instruction, the quality of our program and the quality of the college itself and in turn, it’s going to say a lot about our graduates that leave here going into the industry, Rogers said.
About the 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 151 entries for this year’s contest, 46 were from different high schools, technical schools and colleges in four geographic regions of the US.
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.
“Winning this national honor is quite an achievement,” said Dean Martin, publisher of Tomorrow’s Tech. “We continue to see remarkable improvements in automotive education programs throughout the country and Owensboro is no exception. It is 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.”
This year’s three runners-up are:
- Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, Marlborough, MA;
- Iredell-Statesville Schools Automotive Technology Center, Troutman, NC; and
- Lakes Region Community College, Laconia, NH.
Each runner-up will receive a professional automotive tool set and $250 gift card from O’Reilly Auto Parts, as well as work shirts from Red Kap.