Auto tech time: Noblesville students get hands-on experience under the hood

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By Mark Ambrogi

Noblesville junior Dakoda McQueary had contemplated getting involved with the high school’s music program.

“Then I realized it wasn’t really me,” he said. Instead he decided to take part in the high school’s new automotive technician training program.

In collaboration with Ivy Tech Community College and Hare Chevrolet, the two-year program gives students the opportunity to get hands-on training at the Hare Truck Center.

“I’ve always been interested in cars, so I went in this program to see how it went,” McQueary said. “It’s pretty awesome. I’m definitely thinking of it as a career. I enjoy the work. I like getting my hands dirty and learning more about cars.”

Students can earn dual credit at both NHS and Ivy Tech. The program is being funded through a State of Indiana Manufacturing, Automotive and Construction Workforce Development grant.

Senior Hunter Wolfe had been considering pursuing welding, but last school year, his counselor told him of the program that would be offered this fall.

Wolfe said his family had four-wheelers and they’ve worked on those for years.

“It’s a fun class,” Wolfe said. “You don’t have to be in school all day.”

For Wolfe, the best part is the time spent under the hood.

“No one likes paperwork, but you are still going to work on cars at the end of the day,” said Wolfe, who plans to pursue a career as an auto technician.

Along with basic automotive repair, students will pursue coursework in electrical systems, engine repair and brakes.

NHS assistant principal Beth Meguschar said the City of Noblesville has been great about creating opportunities for school leaders to come together with business leaders.

NHS students had taken auto technician training at J. Everett Light Career Center in Indianapolis, earning six credits. Meguschar said students will now end the program with 15 dual credits for Ivy Tech.

Winning partnership

Noblesville High School presented the idea of the program to Hare Chevrolet co-owner Monica Peck.

“We thought it would be cool to have a training center in a business,” Meguschar said. “She was game for the challenge. We’ve been operating on the hope that partnerships we forge have to be a win-win-win for everybody”

In addition to 15 dual credits, students also get four high school credits for the school year. Of the 13 students enrolled, seven are juniors and six are seniors.

“(Hare Chevrolet) gets input on their training and … access to the top technicians that are coming out,” Meguschar said.

Meguschar said Peck had previously said she could hire 10 technicians if she had them to choose from because there is a real need in the workforce.

“The win for us that the kids are earning more credit than previously been able to it,” Meguschar said. “It’s great for our kids because they are literally five minutes away from school.”

Dave Temple, the instructor from Ivy Tech, said students that complete the two-year program are one year away from graduating from Ivy Tech.

“After they get their associates degree, they can go into the field and work or they can move into a four-year automotive program that Indiana State has,” Temple said. “(Indiana State) has a 96 percent placement rate the last time I checked with all your major automotive companies, including oil companies, fuel and parts companies. Three years removed from high school, they can be placed in a career that is going to make them good money and good benefits, if they are serious about it and that’s the direction they want to go.

“There are technicians today that make $100,000, not very many, but there are some. Some struggle to make $25,000 a year. It just depends on your training and ability. “

According to the Ivy Tech website, the median automotive specialty technician salary is $18 per hour.

Temple said NHS students are enthusiastic about the program.

“They have goals and dreams like everyone and this program allows them to pursue those things,” Temple said.

By the numbers

  • 4 – Credits students in the program will receive for NHS
  • 13 – Students enrolled in the first session of the program (seven juniors, six seniors)
  • 15 – Dual credits students in the program will receive for Ivy Tech
  • 18 – Average dollars per hour auto technicians make (Source: Ivy Tech)
  • 96 – Placement percentage of the Indiana State automotive program
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