ATC’s automotive program gives students glimpse of career opportunities in hi-tech environment

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By Mark Sims, Guest Columnist
Few things are as exciting to teenagers as their cars. Driving a car is one of the rites of passage still afforded American young people. The car also has always held a prominent place in the heart of our country, and we value our freedom of mobility almost as much as any of America’s values or privileges. Without trained, knowledgeable automotive mechanics, this wouldn’t be possible. Kentucky Tech – Harrison Area Center is working to ensure that we continue to have qualified mechanics to keep us running.
Harrison ATC’s Automotive Technology instructor, Shannon Morrison, is charged with sharing his knowledge and expertise of the automotive field with his students. Morrison worked in the automotive business for 28 years before starting his teaching career and holds certificates in Engine Performance, Steering and Suspension, Brake Systems, and Electrical Systems from The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).  
Morrison feels it important to further the interest of his students in their chosen field.
“I feel the purpose of this program is to generate interest in this field through challenging lab work, stimulating discussions, and real world situations,” he said.
Morrison has seen the trade evolve over the years, and he tries to keep his students up to date on the changes that have taken place.
“You used to only have to have aptitude, but now you have to have knowledge.” explained Morrison. “Automobiles now have complex computer systems. Some day soon, most cars probably won’t have an internal combustion engine.”
Along with this technical knowledge Shannon feels that his students need to build their integrity. He feels learning these soft skills is good for the student and feels that it helps the industry as well.
“When you treat a customer right, they’ll trust you, and then you’ll have a loyal customer,” he described. “This is why we spend a lot of time teaching more than just turning a wrench.”
However, turning wrenches is also something they do in the Automotive Technology program, and many of those wrenches are brand new.
Morrison’s classroom shop has recently been revamped. Almost $60,000 worth of new equipment has been purchased. The program recently received two car lifts, a tire balancer, engine scan tool, and a variety of hand and power tools. As a result, students are getting time on the up-to-date equipment they will find in the workplace when they complete their education.
The students in the program seem very positive about their experience.
Corey Bailey, Harrison County senior, finds the instruction suits his learning style.
“Being able to actually do the work you are being taught helps you pick it up faster, and you retain more of the information,” said Bailey.
Cody Rose, Bourbon County sophomore, sees his coursework paying off for him in the future.
“It’s something I like to do, and I plan on using it in my career,” said Rose. “I want to become a diesel mechanic, and many of my classes will transfer to the college I want to go to.”