Mohnton, P.A. – Some of Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Automotive Technology students spent a day at the track on Friday, Sept. 13, visiting the Maple Grove Raceway as part of a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) event series.
The series, titled “Assemble Your Future” is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) effort to connect Mopar CAP students with prospective employers from area Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat dealerships, as well as provide students a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of an NHRA race team.
“Since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is such a major player in the automotive industry, they are trying to use their influence to highlight industry careers and attract new talent to their dealerships” said Jason Evans, Coordinator of MCCC’s Automotive Technology program. “They work to ensure students have a comprehensive idea of what goes into making a successful career.”
Evans, along with students Tyler Hager, Nicholas Kester, and Mark Lopez, took in all the raceway had to offer, including a tour of the track’s pit area.
“We met with the Don Schumacher Racing pit crew, which I think really helped the students envision themselves working in this industry,” said Evans.
The students also crossed paths with Schumacher driver Matt Hagan, who won two NHRA championships (2011 and 2014) in addition to taking 30 Funny Car titles throughout his career.
Additionally, the students talked with representatives from local car dealers, which Evans notes, can be a key step in securing a job after graduation.
“This is a tight-knit market,” Evans said. “Every dealership in the country is looking for technicians.” Evans added that earning potential in the field is high - even car haulers, who transport vehicles as needed, earn a healthy living, given the expensive items they carry.
“So much money goes into these cars,” Evans explained. “The bodies cost upwards of $100,000 alone, and the crews keep two to three of them on hand at all times.”
"My favorite part of the CAP event was being able to watch the pit crew build the 11,000 horse power motors from the block up then start them just a few feet away from us," said Automotive Tech student Nick Kester."
He added, "The experience at the event helped show me the importance of the career path in the large scale and the application of the knowledge in other areas than just dealership work."
Mercer’s Automotive Technology program focuses on current automotive systems and related diagnostic and service techniques. In addition, students develop and learn professionalism while fulfilling internship requirements at their sponsoring repair facility.