Curtis Meyer reporter
For students who are facing car trouble and are struggling for the time or money to fix the problem, Pitt State’s automotive school offers a solution. Located at the Kansas Technology Center, Pitt States program offers students a chance to work on cars in a realistic shop environment while also offering a steep discount on repair prices to customers.
“The program is to give students an opportunity to learn how the automotive technicians work, what it takes to be an automotive technician, what it takes to be at a dealership environment, etc. Our students come to us wanting to be automotive technicians, while they are here, they’ll do a short stint in our service department and a short stint in our parts department,” said assistant professor Dave Fergueson.
Students get to experience all the multiple layers of automotive service, all while helping the local Pittsburg community. The garage at the KTC is open to all members of the public, and charges only for parts plus a third of the total cost of the parts, all of which goes back into the program to help them with purchasing equipment and running the shop.
“We run like a dealership, we have our own lab cars, plus other cars. Vehicles from students, teachers, and community members, so if someone needs a repair, we do it for them. It’s a little bit cheaper for us because we are students, but it does take a little bit more time, since we don’t have that flat rate or hourly rate like the dealerships,” said second year student Trevor Dahl.
This is a godsend for cash strapped college students, who need their cars to commute to work or classes but don’t have the money to spend on repairs at a normal auto shop.
“We don’t charge for parts and then 33 percent of that cost goes back into the program. It’s kind of like different students have different tasks, so right now I’m in the service room. I talk to customers, I get them set up,” said freshman Carson Davis.
For the students in the program, this is a way to gain valuable experience while also paying for their education, meaning they won’t need as much on the job training to get them started in their respective careers.
Pitt State is just one of a handful of schools that offer this kind of program. Students relish the opportunity to graduate college with some practical hands-on experience already under their belts.
“I really enjoy it, it’s definitely meaningful. It allows you to get dealership experience, cause that’s where a lot of us are looking to go after college. It’s very helpful and meaningful that we are able to have this opportunity through here,” said Dahl.
“It’s pretty cool. I came from a tech school up in Northern Missouri, they visited my tech school and said listen dude, if you want to keep doing this and want actual experience, then come visit us. It ran very similarly to an actual shop,” said Davis.