June 12, 2009

Automotive Technology Program Earns National Certification

A WNC student works in the automotive technology lab.
A WNC student works in the automotive technology lab.

Western Nevada College's Automotive Mechanics program has earned a strong endorsement from the national group that certifies training. Following an extensive examination of its courses, instructors and facilities, Western has earned a certification from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).

Not only did Western earn the certification, it also received high praise from Marvin Linville of Rocklin, Calif., who served as chief evaluator.

"Western really came through with flying colors; you have a really good program," Linville said. "NATEF certification is a direct link to the auto industry and shows that the auto program is up to a national level. Anything less, and the auto industry doesn't consider it a structured program."

The Automotive Service Excellence group certifies college level automotive programs. Completing a NATEF certified program usually means that a student is better prepared to pass the ASE tests, which are nationally recognized for their demanding level of required skills.

Western requested certification in the four required areas of brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, and suspension and steering.

Linville said the college's automotive technician program could seek certification in four other areas: automatic transmission and transaxle, engine repair, heating and air conditioning, manual drive train and axles.

NATEF sets standards for the content of instruction, which includes tasks, tools and equipment, hours and instructor qualifications. Western has been fortunate to have several part-time instructors who are ASE certified and works for local auto dealers.

Linville said the ASE came into being in the 1970s as automobiles became more complicated with smog controls and other advances, and there was a wide disparity in skill levels among auto technicians. Many more schools and training programs came into existence to teach mechanics and technicians the skills to work on more complicated vehicles.

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