MCC, Toyota overhauling auto tech program – Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Nabin Acharya, a Nepali native, will be the first in his family to graduate from college when he completes a redesigned but long-running automotive program later this year at Monroe Community College.
The 23-year-old Chili resident is in a degree program at the school in collaboration with Japan-based automaker Toyota designed to give students more real-life work experiences while providing dealerships with workers ready to hit the floor running.
“Working on a car is different every day,” said Acharya, who is already working at Dorschel Lexus in addition to his work in the Toyota lab at MCC’s Applied Technologies Center. “You are not doing the same work every day. Plus nowadays, it’s less mechanical and more technical, which is challenging.”
Acharya is in MCC’s Technician Training & Education Network program, developed with Toyota, to help fill a shortage of automotive service technician jobs in the Finger Lakes region.
In a 2015 report, MCC said the region will have roughly 230 job openings in the field annually. Nationally, openings are expected to increase by about 60,000 between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average annual salary for workers in the field employed in New York state is $39,980, which works out to $19.22 an hour, according to the bureau.
Joseph Myers, a field manager with Toyota, said MCC was one of the first colleges roughly 30 years ago to work with the car company on the program.
Students learn how to fix brakes, transmissions and engines, and do other repair work, on donated Toyota and Lexus vehicles. They use equipment given to MCC by the automaker.
“This literally helps our students jump-start their career,” Myers said during an event Wednesday at MCC’s Applied Technology Center. “Students start at a dealership being able to function … doing the task in the jobs that need to be performed.”
The program is currently being revamped under the partnership between MCC and Toyota, pending approval from the state Department of Education.
Students will be set up with jobs at a Toyota/Lexus dealership before they begin the program, and will be employed as apprentices for two years while enrolled at MCC.
Every eight weeks, those students will alternate between being in the shop and taking classes at MCC. They will also spend an additional 500 hours, or up to nearly 1,300 hours, in hands-on training, focused on learning diagnostic and critical-thinking skills.
Graduates of the program earn an associate’s degree in automotive technology from MCC and industry certifications from Toyota. MCC offers a similar program with General Motors Corp. and Ford dealerships and a non-manufacturer-specific auto tech program.
“This might be the first step to a very long career ladder,” said MCC President Anne Kress. “But it’s affordable and achievable by everyone in our community. These are incredibly intensive academic programs that lead to immediate careers.”
Max Englert, 28, is another student in the program already working in a dealership, Hoselton Toyota.
“I needed something that wherever I went I always had a job, no matter where I went,” said the East Rochester resident. “I’m already on a team to see how those dealerships operate. The second I graduate … I’ll be the same as any other tech out there.”