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In the Spotlight

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CPTC Appears in Parts and People Magazine

Lakewood, Wash.—While Clover Park Technical College has won several awards over its 70-year history, including many automotive honors, Automotive Technician Instructor Wayne Bridges said he is very proud of the award recently bestowed upon the automotive technology programs at the school.

“Being named Tomorrow’s Technician ‘2012 School of the Year’ is an amazing honor, and we’re extremely pleased to be named the top automotive training program in the nation,” he said.

Bridges, an instructor at CPTC since 1989, said he was a 1977 graduate of CPTC’s automotive technology program. Of the seven instructors in automotive programs at the school, five are graduates of either the mechanical or collision repair programs, he said.
Housed in an 87,000-square-foot V-shaped training center with an 8,000-square-foot-plus outdoor grass and concrete courtyard used for car shows and other events, the CPTC automotive center has 125 students enrolled in various programs, Bridges said. One of those is a high school program that operates as Northwest Career & Technical High School with instruction offered in the automotive technology section of the training center, he said.
Three basic automotive programs are offered at CPTC, Bridges said —Automotive Technician, Automotive Collision Technician, and Automotive Technician: Ford Motor Co. Maintenance and Light Repair. The latter is a certificate program instructed by Dave Brown with a shorter curriculum while the other programs offer either an Associate of Applied Technology degree or an Associate in Applied Science-T degree.
Within the collision program, instructed by Kurt Freeman and Greg Richards, there are certificate programs for various elements of collision repair, including a vehicle restoration and customization training segment.
Like the collision program, the Automotive Technician training is broken into segments and taught by four instructors, said Bridges, who instructs hybrid and drivetrain systems. Gary Covington covers electrical, A/C, and engine performance, and Bob Offerdahl handles engine repair and other segments. All are NATEF-certified Master Technician programs under ASE, Bridges said.
In addition to the instructors, Automotive Support Technician Janice Parker oversees the tool and parts center located at the “V” of the two sides of the training center and is the service writer for customer vehicles serviced at the training facility.
“We all interface with one another and it works well, as one person can’t teach bumper to bumper and be effective,” Bridges said. “And the students get a break after a quarter and have a new instructor on the next training segment. It works well for us and the students, and with the exception of the Ford program, there is a two-year waiting list to enter the automotive programs and one year in collision.”
Bridges said CPTC had been in the Top 20 schools for the Tomorrow’s Technician award in the past, but as this year’s nominations approached, they were finalists. “We had worked on this award process for months, and then we were asked to provide a six-minute video about the school and the automotive programs, as well as answer specific questions relating to instruction and the success of our programs,” he said.
While he wanted the communications training department on campus to film the automotive programs, they were unavailable and the deadline was fast approaching.
“I got a video camera and filmed it myself and had my daughter, who has experience with editing, help me finish it and get it in by the deadline,” Bridges said. “When I looked online and saw the other videos submitted by the finalists, I did not feel we had a chance.” But that all changed and CPTC staff were soon notified of winning the top honor, and Bridges, Brown, and Covington all attended Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) in Las Vegas in early November.
“We attended AAPEX and SEMA, and were honored at a Babcox Media dinner, as well as treated to special breakfasts and meetings with parts manufacturers,” Bridges said. In addition to banners and a trophy acknowledging the award, CPTC received $2,500 from Wix Filters, as well as a 200-piece tool set, $250 gift card, backpacks, and stools from O’Reilly Auto Parts. Both firms were national title sponsors of the 2012 School of the Year award.
“It’s essential that parts manufacturers and others in our industry support automotive training programs,” Bridges said. “We need their resources in order to provide quality students for the repair industry.”
Bridges said many training matters were considered in the award process, but he feels the long tradition of quality automotive training at CPTC, a modern facility, and well-tenured instructors were perhaps some of the key factors. “Our multiple-instructor training, as well as live hands-on work on customer vehicles, lots of diagnostic training, addressing technology, and providing students what they will be facing when they are out of school were probably all important,” he said.
“Our administration was quite pleased with the award,” Bridges said. “We won the award based on several factors, but one is that I am blessed to work with the instructors here. This is a very good team and it’s nice to be recognized for what we do and the incredible support from our administration. Based on the quality schools that were part of this competition nationwide, some of whom I am familiar with, it’s an honor to be the school of the year.”
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