Automotive Mechanics students at Western Nevada College are acquiring the skills and credentials necessary to repair or service anything in an automobile. And, they have the certifications to prove it.
Four WNC students recently passed all nine Auto Service Excellence national certification exams following a semester of auto mechanics classes at the E.L. Cord Auto Technology Center on the Carson City campus.
Michael Atkinson and Emmit Morris passed the ASE exams after being enrolled in accelerated classes this fall, while Alex Garic and Jacob Homer accomplished the same feat after taking the regular evening classes in auto mechanics.
For Morris, his success with the exams led to an employment opportunity. He is now working as a full-time mechanic at Wild West Chevrolet in Yerington because of the accelerated program and his nine certifications.
â€œIf I didnâ€™t take the class, I wouldnâ€™t be working and I would still be in school,â€ Morris said. â€œWithout the certifications, I wouldnâ€™t have a job as a mechanic.â€
Atkinson and Morris were also part of studentsâ€™ 91 percent success rate of completing the fallâ€™s accelerated mechanics program.
â€œI was ecstatic, and Iâ€™m really proud of it,â€ said Atkinson of Carson City. â€œI really loved the class and was upset when it was over. I used all sorts of resources and just studied a lot.â€
The 40-to 60-question exams covered suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, automatic transmission and transaxle, manual drive train and axles, heating and air conditioning, and maintenance and light repair.
Air conditioning wasnâ€™t covered in WNCâ€™s accelerated classes and maintenance and light repair wasnâ€™t a specific area of study, but the four students were still able to master those subjects.
â€œThis was the best group so far regarding success rate,â€ said instructor Jason Spohr, who had Atkinson and Morris in his classes.
Students passed at least four certification exams and 79 percent of all the exams they took, according to Greg Sly, a grant manager for WNC who proctored the ASE exams.
The accelerated program was funded through a grant by the U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.
Atkinson said that he hopes his success in the classroom will lead to a part-time mechanics position while he continues his schooling.
Students who didnâ€™t pass all the ASE certification exams can retake them following a period of time that allows them to concentrate on studying the topics that gave them trouble.
Spohr said the electrical and engine performance are the most difficult areas of auto repair and â€œif the student passes those exams, that is what an employer would look for most.â€
Morrisâ€™ success in passing the ASE certification exams also put more money in his pockets.
â€œIf I didnâ€™t pass all nine ASE tests, I would have started out making less money than I am now,â€ Morris said. â€œThe more certified you are, the more money you make.â€
WNC will again offer accelerated auto mechanics classes during the spring semester. The classes will meet for 14 weeks from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
â€œItâ€™s amazing preparation for the students,â€ Spohr said.
Each class is worth three units, so students will earn 21 credits by the conclusion of the semester.
Atkinson said the pace of the accelerated classes was fine for him and he succeeded through two simple practices.
â€œRead your book and ask as many questions as you can,â€ he advised.
Morris recommends the accelerated program because of the instruction he received.
â€œMy advice would be to take the class; it is the best class I have taken and I learned so much being in there with Mr. Spohr,â€ Morris said. â€œHe made the class more understandable and easy to comprehend.â€
Since the specialized program provides more than 15 credits per semester, students wonâ€™t be able to enroll online. They are required to meet with Spohr or WNC Continuing Education Coordinator Linda Whitehill prior to enrolling.
Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 20.