Decatur automotive students make the grade
September 30, 2008 · Updated 12:13 PM
Students in the advanced automotive technology program at Decatur High School were rewarded last week for paying attention in class.
The students won a runner-up prize in the nationwide Castrol Classroom Challenge. The contest challenged schools to have students log on to a Web site and take a quiz about engine oil and oil changes. Quizzes with at least 80 percent correct answers were counted as entries, and the school with the most entries won the runner-up prize.
The grand prize was awarded to a randomly drawn school.
As runners-up, students at Decatur earned T-shirts, mechanic gloves, shop towels, three-ring binders and pens.
“It’s pretty awesome because we got some free stuff,” said Eric Pham, a Decatur senior in the advanced automotive technology program.
“It’s cool. It shows we know what we’re doing. It’s not just a blind auto shop,” said Decatur junior Brandon Hanline, who is also in the advanced automotive technology program.
Hanline said automotive technology classes are challenging and emphasize math and science skills. He said he has improved his work ethic by taking the classes.
“It’s helped me personally in my other classes because we have to work hard in this class and it kind of rubs off on your other classes,” he said.
Fixing cars nowadays requires more skill and education than in past generations, said automotive technology instructor Luke Thompson. Newer cars are run using intricate computer systems, and electrical systems are more complex than they were years ago.
Automotive technology is a lucrative career for young people because the majority of the current workforce is nearing retirement age — and there will be plenty of positions available. Also, it is a career that can never be outsourced, Thompson said.
“Your car physically isn’t going to be shipped to another country and fixed and shipped back,” he said.
Graduates of the auto shop at Decatur will be competitive for entry-level jobs at dealerships, private garages, oil-changing service stations and tire-changing service stations, Thompson said.
An entry-level automotive technician can expect to earn about $30,000 a year, according to salary.com. Within just a few years, an automotive technician with post-secondary education can expect to earn $50,000 a year.
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