GARDNER -- Mount Wachusett Community College has received a $42,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education that will boost technological integration in the college's automotive technology courses while funding a free class this summer to introduce people to the program.
"Mount Wachusett Community College is committed to providing programs that prepare our students to enter the workforce and get well-paying jobs. It is imperative that the educational training we provide be linked as much as possible to the real-world work environments students will experience," said MWCC President James Vander Hooven. "This grant will allow us to improve an already fantastic Automotive Technology program and implement technological changes that will directly benefit our students."
This grant, along with matching funding from the college, will allow MWCC to offer a free Introduction to Automotive Technology course, purchase laptops for use specifically in the automotive classrooms, and introduce a new kinesthetic online learning platform, ELECTUDE, into the program.
The ELECTUDE program, which is used for corporate training as well as educational training, allows students to troubleshoot various automotive repairs in a virtual environment. By making use of the program's interactive, 3D mapped displays, students can work through various repair scenarios before tackling the job in person. Additionally, this allows students to work through scenarios that they might not otherwise encounter.
The program will assist students with becoming more comfortable with the technological side of automotive repair. With the increasing complexity of automobiles, computers are an important tool for diagnosis.
"Thirty years ago, if you were mechanically inclined you could do this. Now, being mechanically inclined isn't enough. You have to understand computer networking and you need to understand electricity," said Eric Almeida, an Assistant Professor of Automotive Technology at MWCC. "Nowadays you can't even install a new window switch without introducing it to the network. So you need to be extremely tech savvy and have an understanding of electricity."
But with that increase in necessary skills comes an increase in pay. Now it is possible for automotive technicians working at dealerships making six figures, said Almeida.
The grant will also fund a free Introduction to Automotive Technology course that will run this summer from June 3 through June 20, daily from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Those interested should contact admissions at, 978-630-9110 or email email@example.com.
This course is a fantastic option for recent high school graduates or current students who want to explore automotive technology, according to Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Math Veronica Guay. It will give students an understanding of important safety procedures, service skills, and how to inspect a vehicle while fulfilling an elective course and getting three college credits.
"This is an accelerated class for those considering automotive. This is a great head start," said Guay. "The beauty of this class is these credits count towards an automotive degree or certificate."
Classes for the college's automotive program are taught at the college's Gardner campus as well as a dedicated garage site in Fitchburg. This six-bay facility gives students an experience analogous to what working in a dealership would be like, with a reception area and an opportunity to work directly on vehicles on the types of equipment they will experience when working in the industry.