Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. Two Dodge Chargers in the Diesel Mechanics building.
BY MELISSA ESPINOZA
For the last 60 years, College of the Desert has been offering students a variety of opportunities in many different career paths. One program providing students an edge is the Automotive Technology Program. The courses and degrees offered have been helping students achieve their goals in an extremely competitive automotive service industry.
Professor Douglas Redman, who has been teaching at COD since August 2007, said students can obtain two degrees and a number of different licenses on automotive services.
“We offer automotive and advanced transportation and technology programs. The advanced transportation, which would involve the hydrogen CNG and hybrid, started around 2001 or so,” said Redman.
These two programs are certified by The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NAFET). Students who are part of the program are preparing to solve the many problems that they would face while working in the professional automotive field.
“We’re set up like most automotive training facilities, including the private automotive facilities, we are going to take them through from wherever they are at to get them a strong understanding and get them equipped for an entry-level position,” said Redman.
Ashley Moeller, an automotive technology major, is one of the many COD students who are currently part of the automotive program. Moller plans to open her own business in the valley to help the local community.
“I want to open an all-female automotive shop here in the Coachella Valley, and I figured in order to do so and to work in the automotive field and being taken seriously as a female in the field, I should probably get some paperwork to back me up, my associates degree would be perfect for that and all of the little certificates that the school offers along the way. It would put backing into what I want to do in the future,” said Moeller.
Students in the program are not only taught how to fix cars, but they also learn about the work environment, customer service and the new technologies that are taking over the industry.
Over the years the automotive program has been able to purchase some of the newest, and most technologically advanced vehicles in the market. It now has an electric Fiat, a Prius with a heads-up display and a Toyota Mirai fuel cell car.
But students are not limited to one specific interest. They are expected to do all that the program offers and learn about the new technologies. For Moeller, she has one focus for her business but also sees the advantages of learning as much as possible.
“I do see that as being a market for the future, like, once warranties wear out and people don’t want to spend the money taking their car to the dealership, I see that as possibly a moneymaker for a business, but right now I don’t. That’s not what I want to do, I know how to do it from learning from the classes here, but that’s not my interest and what I want to so with my business,” said Moeller.
The program is expanding, and there are plans to move it to Cathedral City. The new location would provide students closer access to more job opportunities and where students interested in the program can learn in an environment made just for them.
“I understand this could be intimidating, but we have a lot of fun over here. Our classes are designed for about half the time in the classroom and the other half of time in the lab and we’re gonna get our hands dirty in the lab. We’re gonna do a lot of things and there is a sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with that in a lot of the task we do…push yourself, get over that intimidation and I think you would really enjoy it,” said Redman.