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MCCC Automotive Students Are Technology Driven

2/7/18


Students collect a sample in a graduated container during their fuel system output volume test. Results are read on a laptop computer.

Auto tech students are pictured with the program's new state-of-the-art lift, which they will use to complete numerous assignments.

Students work in teams with input from Evans, second from left.

Students are driven by their interest in cars and technology.

In with the old...the remaining manual transmission vehicle in the shop is a Jeep.

West Windsor, N.J. – Check out the Automotive Technology Laboratory at Mercer County Community College and you might be surprised by how many laptop computers the lab is equipped with.

“Everything on the car is computer-based,” says Program Coordinator Jason Evans, “right down to the horn.  It’s more complex for car owners, who can no longer do much of their own service.”

It’s also more complex for technicians. “The required training is at a much higher level than even ten years ago,” Evans said. “If you have the right training, you can click on a computer screen and get diagnostic information.  But you need to be able to speak the language of computer-based systems, right down to tire pressure.”

Thanks to a Perkins grant, the lab recently received a new drive-on lift, one that features a computerized alignment system. It adds to current equipment purchased more than 20 years ago. Used for training on steering, suspension and wheel alignments, the lift is key to many assignments.

“This will be a nice lift to work on,” Evans said, adding that having two lifts will allow more students to complete assignments at the same time.

On Feb. 6, following several classroom sessions, students were in the Auto Tech Lab ready to roll up their sleeves for the first time this semester. Enrolled in the Automotive Fuel Systems course, their assignment was to perform fuel systems diagnostics, measuring system pressure and output volume, while controlling fuel system functions on computers set up next to the vehicles.

“They are using wireless diagnostic scan tools, in conjunction with laptop computers to communicate with the vehicle’s on-board powertrain control module, which caches malfunctions in both the engine and transmission,” Evans explained.

The class includes a mix of students who are enrolled in either Mercer’s Mopar Career Automotive Program (a program sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) or the Comprehensive Automotive Technology program.

In a field like this one, there is almost no car that is too old. At the far end of the garage, a green Jeep is suspended on a lift.  “It’s the only manual transmission vehicle in the shop,” Evans said. “It’s less commonly found these days, but there are still many of them out there. Students need to know how to fix them.”

Evans adds that careers in the automotive field are thriving. “One hundred percent of our students are finding full-time jobs after completing required internships,” he said, adding that having an associate degree in Automotive Technology is a good investment. “The salaries are higher right from the start.”

Automotive Technogogy at Mercer

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