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* Automotive center on road to Phase III

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Professional Automotive Training Center students cut the ribbon, Tuesday, June 8, 2010, during ceremonies to dedicate the $4.2 million expansion of the center.

 

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With the snippets of ribbon still fluttering to the floor, officials from the automotive industry and Shoreline Community College were already getting to work on the next phase for the nationally recognized Professional Automotive Training Center (PATC).

 

That next phase was unveiled Tuesday, June 8, 2010, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Phase II, a $4.2-million, 26,000-square-foot expansion of the center.

 

“I’m here to announce Phase III,” said Pam Nelson, President of the Puget Sound Auto Dealers Association and owner of Foothills Toyota Scion in Burlington, Wash. “In this technological automotive world, education is critical in maintaining the sophisticated transportation systems we now drive.

 

“So, in partnership with Shoreline Community College, we will expand once more. More international automakers will join us at this facility and hundreds more young people will have the opportunity for excellent high pay, high growth sustainable automotive jobs.”

 

Also announced at ribbon-cutting is a new “Innovation Works” center sponsored by Snap-on Industrial. Innovation Works will be the Northwest hub of The National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3).

 

NC3 is a partnership between Snap-on Industrial and schools across the U.S., including Shoreline, Gateway Technical College and Lakeshore Technical College in Wisconsin, Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma, Wichita Area Technical College in Kansas and New England Institute of Technology in Rhode Island and South Seattle Community College. The NC3 partners will work together to offer nationally certified training in a number of critical manufacturing areas.

 

The current PATC expansion adds to the original 32,000-square-foot center that opened in 1992. To fund the expansion project, $2 million came from the state, $1 million from Toyota USA and rest from the Puget Sound Auto Dealers Association and its members.

 

While the project nearly doubled the size, the expanded center is already full with new industry partners and previous partners now offering more training and education. Current training center industry partners include: Toyota, Honda, GM, Chrysler, Volvo, Hyundai, Snap-on, Hunter Engineering with full-time presences and others such as Subaru, Kia, Volkswagen and Raytheon also using the center.

 

The announcement by Nelson, a third-generation auto dealer, was made possible after a recent PSADA Foundation meeting during which board members voted to spearhead the fundraising efforts for the next expansion of the training center. At this point, no further details have been announced about the drive.

 

The PATC is recognized as the premier automotive technician program in the U.S.  The innovative model was originated by the college and industry partners to integrate education with hands-on experience in the workplace.

 

Every student in one of the four factory-sponsored programs is sponsored by a local automobile dealership.  Students are in a cycle of 11 weeks (one academic quarter) at the PATC, then 11 weeks in their dealership throughout the two-year program.  Students can graduate a two-year Applied Associate in Arts and Sciences degree as well as numerous manufacturer-specific training certificates.

 

The General Service Technician (GST) program is a shorter, non-manufacturer specific program.  GST students attend two quarters at the PATC followed by one quarter in a workplace setting. GST students receive a certificate of proficiency.

 

Today's automotive technician is not just a "mechanic." The electronic and mechanical sophistication of today's vehicles, along with hybrids and full-electric vehicles, means these jobs are highly technical.

 

A U.S. Dept of Labor study predicts that need for automotive technicians will continue to grow "even through downturns in the economy."

 

The average Automotive Technician salary for the region ranges from $50,000 to $52,000, depending on location and the individual's production abilities.  Oftentimes, technicians move into other areas of the automotive industry, including parts, sales, finance and insurance, management, marketing and other career tracks.

 

Because the PATC program is so closely tied to the industry, the job-placement rate for PATC graduates is high, approaching to 100 percent.

 

SCC/ Jim Hills

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