Student auto techs gear up for work force

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In the state of New Mexico, there are two high school auto tech programs that are nationally-certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the National Automotive Technicians Educational Foundation (NATEF). Those programs are the Career Enrichment Center in Albuquerque and the Automobile Technician Training Program at Magdalena High School.

Submitted photo: Magdalena High School students serviced 20 vehicles during an open house on April 21.

In an effort to increase awareness of the career opportunity available to Magdalena High School students, the Magdalena Schools Auto Tech Shop held an open house on Saturday, April 21. Nine student auto technicians serviced 20 vehicles during the three-hour event. The students demonstrated their skills by changing oil, checking tire pressures and topping off other vehicle fluids.

The oil changes were free to the open house participants, and the student technicians were paid by their instructor Bryan Baca for each oil change they performed. Frank Romero of the Socorro NAPA store donated the oil filters for the free oil changes. A representative of Factory Motor Parts in Albuquerque was also available at the open house to visit with those present.

Forty-five people attended the event and were treated to free caps, coffee and donuts for breakfast and later hot dogs, chips and sodas for lunch.

Darren Monette of Monette Ford and chairman of the Magdalena auto tech program’s advisory committee was available to talk to students and their parents regarding careers in auto technology.

When a student completes the program, he or she has learned the same level as a post-secondary student at Central New Mexico or New Mexico Junior College. Some of the courses these students have taken in high school could count toward a college-level degree in Automotive Technology — making college-bound or work-bound students better qualified for skilled work opportunities after high school. College-trained automotive technician can make $60,000 per year.

A scholarship fund has been established to assist students who have completed Magdalena’s Automotive Technician Training Program, so that they may continue their auto-related post-secondary education.

Anyone interested in donating to the scholarship fund can send donations to Magdalena Schools Auto Tech Program, P.O. Box 24, Magdalena, N.M., 87825.