Automotive department determined to keep up with new technology

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By Jackson Ly:

City College is training future mechanics at the Evans center on hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles that will give them the knowledge to adapt and work on the newest technologies of the automotive world.

“If you don’t keep up with the technology, you can only work on old cars,” Automotive and Motorcycle Department Chair Ben Macri said.

Before students can start fixing alternative-fuel cars, they must work on gasoline cars first. As a requirement, students must take and pass the entry-level automotive repair class before they can take advanced courses.

Some of the 23 students in the introductory automotive class want to gain experience to become mechanics, but other students just want to be able to fix their own car.

Lucia Mampieri, 50, who graduated from City College 15 years ago with a nursing certification and works as an ICU nurse, is taking the introductory class for fun and so she can maintain her own car.

“If my car breaks down, I want to open the hood and fix it,” Mampieri said. “It’s about being independent in life.”

Mrs. Lisa Duke(left) Automitive mechanics instructor shows Lucia Mampieri how to measure the brake pads on a car. Photo by JuanPardo/The Guardsman
Mrs. Lisa Duke(left) Automitive mechanics instructor shows Lucia Mampieri how to measure the brake pads on a car. Photo by JuanPardo/The Guardsman

The school’s automotive and motorcycle program is certified under the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) as well as National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), which means students can earn a degree and certificate from the school.

Being certified by NATEF also means that City College has a higher chance of receiving funding from public and corporate sources, according to the NATEF website.

Hybrid and electric cars, such as a Plug-In Toyota Prius, an all-electric Nissan Leaf and a Ford Focus, are in the automotive garage at Evans center and will be used to teach instructors from City College and other northern California community colleges about alternative fuel vehicles.

City College’s automotive and motorcycle technology departments are partnering with Solano Community College, which just received a $646,695 grant from the California State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Solano is using the grant to fund its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.

“We’re trying to educate as many as we can in the hybrid field,” certified master technician and City College automotive instructor Joe Gumina said. “The educators on the top are realizing there is a demand for technicians.”

Instructors from Vacaville, Yosemite, Pasadena, Sacramento, Solano and Modesto attended hybrid and electric training sessions at Evans center.

The sessions featured Craig Van Batenburg, who is an expert in hybrid technology and the CEO of Auto Careers Development Center.

This is one of the steps City College is pursuing to adapt hybrid and electric technology to its curriculum to prepare students to work in today’s automotive field.

René Wagner, 25, a second year automotive technology student, wants to become a well-rounded mechanic.

He said his previous experience with cars has made it easier to follow the terms and concepts presented in his introductory class.

“It doesn’t make sense to me to only get certificates because I want to learn everything and be a master mechanic overall,” Wagner said.

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