Open Your Toolbox, Insert Knowledge

Dec 2, 2009

The world of education is a vast landscape of opportunity for personal advancement. The power instilled within advancing your education enables you to climb your personal ladder and to be more efficient and effective in your automotive work environment. Additionally, your advancement in the workplace is enhanced with additional knowledge tools, which enables you to grow your business and contribute to your business profit. When you consider the personal bucket of things to attain, education should be paramount.

Working on today’s cars and trucks requires an understanding in business growth aspects as well as the science and technology that goes into the modern, highly-sophisticated vehicles.

With the investment of time, effort and tuition, you can aspire to lay claim to a new arena of opportunity within your workplace and the industry. And, once you’ve attained your educational goal, you can translate your work effort to profits over many years to come. The world of the have’s and have-not’s is a wicked world. With the educational tools of the trade you can embark with confidence and strength in your aspiration to lead vs. follow. The impact you receive is a value for years to come as you stand firm in your objective of either moving up the ladder to success or operating your business with confirmation vs. the seat of the pants approach.

Consider Your Needs

In order to test the waters you should consider your specific needs where education is a bridge to success and more than just class rigor. This professional business magazine series feature is the second of a three part series that will open your mind to the educational opportunities available with either a degree path through a college or university, the trade school approach, or a certificate program that will provide you the necessary tools to advance your automotive career.

There are both short-term and long-term considerations that amplify your personal objective. Depending on your objective, the community college route is a well defined educational opportunity. They also deliver high-quality instruction that empowers students to compete with the automotive and business workplace with small and affordable classes. Additionally, community colleges provide a varied platform from which to pick and choose particular classes.

For gearheads seeking the technical knowledge of suspension, engine dynamics, transmission repair or body and frame, the community college will be a wise choice within your local demographic. Also, community colleges offer a variety of business knowledge building courses which have a positive impact on the practical knowledge of running your business. With the rising costs of education, one might consider this path to accelerate their knowledge path because community colleges tend to provide affordable education.

Community Colleges

There is a vastness within the national scope of community colleges. All offer marketing and management courses, although the course format may not be specific to the automotive marketplace. But, within each course there is a definite value of organizational foot printing within business disciplines. The defined benefit is that you’ll garner the specifics of business and the characteristics of growing your business. Keep in mind that the academic rigor of the community college system is geared to expand your knowledge base in practical terms and thus is a wise choice for further consideration.

There are numerous community colleges from which to choose expanding your knowledge base. Each college has its particular strengths, but you should consider one with a ASE fast track, collision repair, domestic and foreign applications, diesel truck technology and perhaps a Toyota or other manufacturer co-op program.

In the west, the California Community College system is key to the automotive trade with choice programs offered by a number colleges throughout the state. Citrus College has a will organized and creative automotive program offering programs suitable for advancement within a variety of automotive sectors requiring certificate and/or an associate degree. Their High Performance Institute is one of the few colleges offering hands-on application for domestic engine performance and machining at the community college level. Professor Dennis Korn can be reached for further information at

Des Moines Area Community College is another community college standout with their partnership with General Motors. The program states that, “It is designed to train and employ the industry’s best automotive technicians.” As a two-year program, DMACC graduates earn an AAS degree. Students rotate 50/50 class time and internship at their sponsoring dealership while being paid for their internship hours while working at a General Motors dealership. Further information can be obtained by calling (515) 964-6200.

Indiana offers 23 Ivy Tech Community College’s, serving both business and technology needs which provides education to over 111,000 students annually. Their Automotive Technology program offers exciting careers and unlimited opportunities utilizing only the most modern equipment and A.S.E master certified instructors, students learn how to diagnose and repair cars and trucks all with affordable tuition and a degree path curriculum. This is a “hands-on” training program that allows plenty of lab time to develop the skills needed to be a successful automotive technician.


Gale Banks, president and founder of Banks Power, has said, “In my 45 years of turbo and diesel performance, I’ve seen a lot of winners…and they all had one thing in common: great training.” Training comes with education at schools that have accreditation.

You might ask, what is accreditation? Accreditation is a distinction granted to any educational institution meeting or exceeding the stated criteria of educational quality. The purposes of accreditation include:

  • Assess and enhance the educational quality of an institution
  • Assure consistency in institutional operations
  • Promote institutional improvement
  • Provide for public accountability

Accreditation affects you by providing for the responsibility of an institution and assuring prospective and current students the following:

  • It is recognized as a qualified institution of higher learning with approved programs of study that meet recognized academic standards.
  • It employs a professional degreed staff
  • It has sufficient facilities and equipment
  • It is a stable and permanent fixture in the educational community.

It is critical that you attend only a school of higher education that has been accredited, thus qualifying it as a valid certificate or degree granting institution.

Both Universal Technical Institute and WyoTech lead the private sector providing trade education. With facilities which include modern tools and diagnostic equipment which keep step with the industry’s most successful shop operations, both institutions are innovative education leaders to the industry. You’ll be trained in automotive technology which includes basic engine management systems, drivability diagnostics, drivetrain systems and chassis components and design.

Both utilize theory and lab learning experiences which elevate the knowledge of their students. Each also provides various program specialties including: applied service management, motorsports chassis fabrication, high performance drivetrain, street rod and custom fabrication, along with light-duty diesel and advance training options.

There are a variety of accredited certificate programs that are available at both community college and four-year colleges and universities. These programs range from the diagnostic and technical programs that can be either entry level or advanced. Keep in mind that a certificate from a recognized college of higher education is of great value. These programs are both cost effective and flexible. Some are also available online and offer a certificate of completion and possible credit hours.

Automotive BusinessEducation

On the business side of the equation, the automotive and motorsports marketplace is less likely to find certificate programs specific to targeted industry applications. The core of most advertised programs is specific to standard business educational tools and do not pin-point the aftermarket’s specific needs nor address such aspects as supply chain management within the automotive industry.

Marian College/Indianapolis, the college where I teach, is addressing the educational need within the automotive industry. It will offer an automotive and motorsports business curriculum specific to the industry launching this spring and offered bi-monthly thereafter online. As an eLeaning program, with precise and targeted information, this series of marketing, management and entrepreneurship certificate programs appears to be unique to the industry.

With instructional design by industry academics, the program is written in a plain talk approach and applies to both aftermarket manufacturers and business owners and management staff. Within a four-week curriculum path, one learns the foundational structure of the core topic and then applies this knowledge to building their company. Upon completion, each student is awarded a Marian College Certificate of Completion in their core discipline. Operating for 71 years in Indianapolis, this outreach program is one to consider. For information call (317) 955-6453.

Do Your Homework

I highly recommend you do your homework in selecting any educational program for personal and business advancement. Education is a popular component frequently viewed in print advertising as well as bannered in a variety of advertising mediums. If you are advancing yourself through education, or should I say when you start advancing yourself with the great tools of knowledge, know your investment is one which will pay a rather handsome dividend.

In the third segment of the series, you’ll be provided a landscape of educational opportunities from four-year colleges and universities that offer aftermarket and motorsports academic programs in business and technology. Also in this segment, you’ll be introduced to the differences between electronic learning, workshops and seminars, as well as which may be the most advantageous to you.