News Highlights: Accreditation benefits EMCC Automotive Technology students | Company
On January 11, Dale Henry received a message from the ASE Education Foundation that East Mississippi Community College Automotive Technology program was approved for re-accreditation, a rigorous process that takes place every five years and requires regular curriculum adjustments to keep up with the rapid changes in the automotive industry.
“There is a lot more to accreditation than just pulling out a series of books and standards that they review every five years,” said Henry, the division head of EMCC’s Automotive Technology/ Diesel Mechanics Department. “We have to keep everything up to date. We have to keep the store equipped and organized. We have to justify when we learn something. We have to show all that and prove that we do all the things that are necessary. “
The accreditation process requires the advisory committees of automotive education institutions to conduct a self-assessment of the program standards as outlined in a 134-page document by ASE, short for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. In-depth evaluations are conducted in the following areas: brakes, engine performance, automatic transmissions and transaxles, heating and air conditioning, electrical / electronic systems, suspension and steering, engine repair and manual drivetrain and axles.
Program adjustments must be made in any area that does not meet national standards before applying for accreditation to the ASE Education Foundation.
If everything is in order, the ASE Education Foundation will make an un-site evaluation led by an ASE Certified Master Technician.
“It’s a pretty big process,” said Henry. “They have three men and they come in and in a day they will probably go through 500 to 600 papers that are in folders. In addition, they perform a store audit, a student audit, and an equipment audit, among other things, while on campus. “
ASE then creates a report detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the educational institution and the areas where changes need to be made.
“The page of things to fix was blank,” said Henry of the university’s ASE report. “We were spotlessly clean. We are most satisfied with that. “
ASE also offers professional training and certification. All instructors at accredited schools must be ASE certified in the subject areas they teach and have at least entry-level certification in Maintenance and Light Repair. Those who pass multiple tests can earn ASE Master Status, which is required by all EMCC auto instructors.
Henry, who reviews ASE accreditation site visits to other colleges, is also a certified ASE Advanced Level Specialist.
EMCC Automotive Technology students earn ASE entry-level certification in 10 areas before graduating from the program offered at the college’s Golden Triangle campus. After two years of documented automotive repair work experience, they can test for certification as an ASE Professional Technician.
Rapid changes in the automotive industry are leading to an increasing demand for tech-savvy technicians who are as adept with a laptop as they are under the hood. Today, technicians must be well versed in using diagnostic computers to work on gasoline, hybrid and electric vehicles equipped with stability and traction control systems and electronic controls for everything from engines to steering and braking systems.
An Automotive News article entitled “Chronic Shortage of Service Technicians Threatens Dealers’ Profits” predicts a short-term shortage of 20,000 to 25,000 automotive technicians across the industry.
That question offers new opportunities for graduates of EMCC’s Automotive Technology program, sought after by employers across the region.
Columbus resident Thomas Murray said he was aware that there was a growing demand for workers in engineering fields when he enrolled in the Automotive Technology program at EMCC.
“That whole industry is growing,” said Murray. “I enjoy working on cars and I want to make a living doing something I enjoy.”
Instructors with the Automotive Technology program at EMCC are also authorized to deliver training modules leading to professional certifications offered by Toyota, Ford, Honda and ACDelco, which is owned by General Motors.
“To access that training, we need to be accredited,” said Henry. “The good thing about ASE is that it is the only thing that connects the automotive industry nationally.”
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