Bronx Community College’s Automotive Technology Department Prepares Students for Jobs in Today’s Fast Changing Car Industry

September 25, 2007 | Bronx Community College

Because cars will be used into the foreseeable future, the car industry will need well-trained and knowledgeable automotive technicians who can provide, efficient and economic service on new technologies.
— President Carolyn G. Williams
Bronx Community College of the City
University of New York

Lift the hood on any late model car today and it’s easy to see: Today’s automotive systems have become increasingly complex. To become a successful automotive technician, you need to not only learn about cars but also receive comprehensive training in electronics, computers, specialized tools and software programs. Without such training, it’s hard to stay on top of the industry’s continuing technological advances.

To be able to service today’s cars; automotive technicians need to constantly upgrade themselves on the technology of today and tomorrow. Cars and trucks built on the mechanics of the 1990s are fast disappearing from roadways. Each year’s new vehicles arrive with advanced electronics.

Cars today — from Buick to Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Toyota, Honda, Saturn, Volvo, Nissan, Chrysler, Jeep, Cadillac, Mini-Cooper, Mazda, Porsche, Pontiac, Thunderbird and Corvette — often are sold with sophisticated equipment that includes global positioning systems; 4-wheel drive; electronic stability programs; electronically controlled, direct injection diesel engines; brake assist technology; and complex powertrain technology that merges gasoline, biofuel and electric fuel sources.

Some cars are built today with up to 95 computers for safety and convenience. You may not see those computers but they are there under the hood, in the passenger compartment or the trunk. Troubleshooting those electronics requires expert knowledge and experience.

“We all know that at some point, our cars need to be tweaked and tuned. Most of those repairs and tune-ups take place in garages but there are ever more complex systems coming onto the market that allow for adjustments to be made through satellite communication,” says Clement Drummond, director of Bronx Community College’s (BCC’s) Automotive Technology Program.

“Aspiring automotive technicians and old school automotive technicians need to understand that technology transition is seriously underway in the vehicle industry. Hybrid technology — combustion engines, sophisticated computers and electric motors — are used to steer the car, power the drive wheels, manage fuel injection systems and lower tailpipe emissions to allow for better fuel economy with the help of monitoring sensors and controlling actuators for subsystems,” adds Drummond.

“Customers can greatly benefit by Bronx Community College’s graduates who acquire an integrated understanding of how new technologies work. Consumers generally agree that repair costs assessed by an automotive technician with proper skills and knowledge are always less than the repair costs charged by a technician who is just guessing,” adds Drummond.

Luis Lopez , an aspiring Automotive Technician student in Bronx Community College’s Automotive Technology Program is also Student Government President. He plans to graduate next year. “There’s a lot of new equipment that BCC’s Automotive Technology Program has put in place. I tell all my friends to look at the Automotive Technology Program here,” Mr. Lopez states.

Mr. Lopez says he has always loved things mechanical. Since he was a child, he has built model cars. Already, he says, he has lined up a job at a fleet owners garage and a couple of private car repair shops after he graduates. Once he convinced his Mother that he really didn’t want to be a lawyer but wanted to become an automotive technician was what he wanted to do, Mr. Lopez says she was very happy. In the past, when he had to pay for his college, he worked construction and demolition, and as an intercom coordinator in an apartment house and as a locksmith. This year he’s working on campus in BCC’s College Bookstore down the hall from the Office of the President of Student Government.

Lisamarie Echevarria graduated from Astor Collegiate Academy, part of Columbus High School last spring. This fall she is learning about manual transmissions in Bronx Community College’s Automotive Technology Program. “I like it. So many parts of the car are like the human body she says. I want to know how the car works and how all the parts fit together,” states Ms. Echevarria who eventually wants to be a veterinarian.

Her interest in cars was influenced by her father who is a mechanic. She says her Dad is not particularly happy that she is taking courses in automotive repair because he knows that it was a difficult career for him. He has worked as a mechanic all of his life.

Ms. Echevarria believes that by learning automotive technology it will not only help her know about cars but it will help her begin to understand technology in so many other fields including veterinary science. “I have a scientific mind and am very curious about everything. I want to know how everything functions. People won’t be able to rip me off when I go to buy a car. I’ll know more than my friends,” she adds. Any woman or man should be able to pursue whatever they want to do. They should not limit themselves. Bronx Community College offers an education in automotive technology for men and women.”

What do her friends think about her interests? “They think it”s cool. They encourage me to pursue whatever it is that I want to do in the automotive technology program. You have to have some fun in life so why not try what you enjoy doing without worrying about what everybody thinks. I like the hands on work in the course. The grease doesn’t bother me,” says Ms. Echevarria.

According to Automotive Retailing Today (ART), nearly 109,000 career jobs are available at U.S. auto dealerships. “At a time when the auto industry is undergoing significant change, franchise auto dealers have a good news story about the thousands of well-paying jobs currently available across the country,” says Carter Myers, chairman of Automotive Retailing Today.

“Dealerships are high-tech facilities requiring top-notch staff with computer and technical skills,” said Myers. America’s franchised auto dealers are hanging out the help wanted sign for these high-paying jobs. There is a great demand for qualified, technically savvy employees.

Bronx Community College’s Automotive Technology Program offers an Associate in Applied Sciences Degree. Bronx Community College’s Automotive Technology Program is the only one offered by The City University of New York. The 60 credit curriculum prepares students for careers as automotive technicians. (See sidebar at end of story for career possibilities.) Students develop an understanding of operational principles, service sequences and diagnostic techniques for engines, brakes, fuel systems, transmissions and rear axles, suspension systems, automatic transmissions, heating and air-conditioning and electrical systems.

Students get to work on electronic transmission and anti-lock brake testing systems, the latest wheel alignment equipment and dynamic road force balancers which are housed in the classrooms.

BCC’s Automotive Technology Program courses are taught in recently renovated shop floor classrooms. For enthusiastic students who want hands on engine repair, Drummond has 14 Honda V-Tech engines mounted on rolling engine stands with small hand cranks to rotate the engines 360 degrees for student disassembly and inspection. Classrooms have the latest digital micrometers for measurement.

Computer labs enable students to access data reference through application software. Students can look up each of the proper procedures for assembly and disassembly of the engine. There’s a computer program that allows students to learn about engine performance through the use of a virtual dynamic simulator. Students sit in front of a computer station while the instructor gives them a problem. Students can go on virtual road tests to solve problems while remaining stationary.

Upon completion of the curriculum, BCC graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in many areas of the automotive industry dealing with development, testing, diagnosis and service of mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and automotive systems.

“Students who start their education early at BCC and work at a dealership as interns will be able to start at a higher level in the dealership. Students who concentrate on automotive studies can go on for advanced training and education. This training can prepare students for careers in technical education, engineering, insurance appraisal, accident investigation, and other specialties. For more information about the Automotive Technology Program click on

http://www.bcc.cuny.edu/DegreePrograms/DegreePrograms.cfm?DegreeID=12

or go to the Bronx College Website, and click on Degree Programs and then click on Automotive Technology Program or e-mail Clement Drummond at clement.drummond@bcc.cuny.edu or call him at (718) 289-5213.

Where Automotive Technology Graduates Are Employed

  • Equipment, sales & service
  • Diagnostician
  • Test Technician
  • Independent business administrator
  • Dealership service manager
  • Service advisor
  • Engine machinist and rebuilder
  • Fuel injection specialist
  • Automatic transmission
  • Engine management specialist
  • General service technician

Press, Radio, TV
Please call: Bryant Mason
Media Relations Specialist
(718) 289-5208
bryant.mason@bcc.cuny.edu

Bronx Community College (BCC) of The City University of New York celebrates its 50th anniversary of service to students in New York City in 2007. Over the past five years, enrollment has increased 20 per cent to 9,000 students, reflecting the reliance of the surrounding communities on it as a pathway to a better life. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 11th year of leadership service to the College, which is located on a 44-acre campus at West 181st Street & University Avenue, formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

BCC students from over 109 nations receive an excellent preparation to go on to four-year colleges or to advance into successful vocational careers. Programs offered at BCC include Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Nursing, Nuclear Medicine Technology, RadiologicTechnology, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions. NCEA also coordinates the College’s international initiatives and the annual International Education Week.

The Center has also facilitated a campus wide effort to create BCC’s Center for Tolerance and Understanding. The Center for Teaching Excellence offers faculty development to promote student achievement and to stimulate discussions to keep the teaching and learning process vital and dynamic.
Take a look at BCC’s website at www.bcc.cuny.edu