Learning by doing Auto students get taste of real world

Chad Dryden Published:

By Chad Dryden

Record-Courier correspondent

Need some basic car work done?

The students in Maplewood Career Centers automotive service technology class might be able to help.

Led by A.S.T. instructor David Makin, the 25 juniors and seniors currently enrolled in the two-year course are busy preparing themselves for careers in the automotive service industry.

Theyre doing this by sticking their noses both in books and underneath hoods.

Ninety-five percent of the class time is spent on hands-on work, Makin said. The more hands-on work we do, the more the students will learn.

The students are learning everything from basic wiring to engine mechanics to operational diagnosis. Theyve studied ignition systems, fuel delivery and wheel alignment. They cover, essentially, everything aspiring mechanics need to know.

There are all types of jobs we do from brake jobs to clutch jobs, Makin said. We always try to do work on things we are studying.

The students have roughly two hours a day of lab time in which to do this. Before each class, Makin prepares job sheets to hand out to the students, who then set about performing the work.

Once completed, the students log the results on handouts that are given back to Makin.

Some jobs are harder than others, Makin said. Earlier this year, the class performed transmission work on a Ford Explorer that, because of extensive rust, presented quite a logistical challenge for the budding mechanics. But keeping with the philosophy of the class, Makin turned the problem into a lesson where the students learned to use torches and a tap-and-die set.

Keeping the students busy certainly is not a problem. Working in groups or individually, the students spend lab time performing repairs on both test vehicles and those of Maplewood students and staff, who are not charged for the service but often make donations to the class. Whichever the case, Makins students most of whom plan to pursue automotive service careers said the hands-on experience is second-to-none.

I learn something new every day, said junior Fahdi Moore, 17, of Streetsboro. It is giving me good training.

Eric Sloan, 16, a junior from Newton Falls, agreed.

I have learned how to operate several key pieces of equipment that have to do with auto mechanics, he said.

The students learning is not limited to the actual repair work. For first-year instructor Makin, who spent the previous 20 years working for Klaben Ford in Kent, part of preparing the students for careers in the industry is teaching them good communication, leadership skills, work responsibility and a positive work attitude lessons he believes are important components to the real-world experience.

This class prepares the students to start as an entry-level mechanic in a dealership or other type of work, Makin said.

They have gained nothing but my respect. They are very hard working and work together in teams very well.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.