Automotive students learn about opportunities in local industry

Brian Butler, right, owner of East Coast Restoration in Bridgeville, speaks to parents and students of Automotive Technologies at Sussex Tech. Standing are teachers Jim Friedel, left, and H.J. Bunting, who hosted the annual breakfast. SOURCE SUBMITTED
February 26, 2014

The automotive technologies cluster at Sussex Technical High School hosted its annual industry breakfast Feb. 5. At the event, students in the career-technical areas of the cluster and their parents had the opportunity to meet industry representatives and learn about opportunities available at local businesses.

Sussex Tech urges its students to seek work-based learning opportunities in the summer during their junior and senior years and part-time during their senior year at a local education-partner dealership. During the WBL time, an experienced technician becomes the student’s mentor to build the student’s skills in a variety of technical specialties.

Brian Butler, owner of East Coast Restoration in Bridgeville, told students his objective as a business owner is to “put out the best quality [workmanship] every day.” He also said he is looking for employees with integrity who are willing to learn. “Everybody makes mistakes,” said Butler.

Sussex Tech’s automotive technologies career-technical programs have been recognized as Automotive Youth Educational Systems school partners, are NATEF/AYES certified, and participate actively with local businesses to foster student apprenticeships. Collision repair is a multifaceted program in which students apply the I-CAR curriculum through a techademic, hands-on approach. I-CAR is the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, a nonprofit training organization focused on education, knowledge, and solutions for the collision repair inter-industry.

Allan Smith, Northeast regional manager for I-CAR, praised Sussex Tech for hosting the breakfast to bring students and industry professionals together. He told students, “The opportunities given by people you meet will be with you forever. You will get many opportunities from people if you have the desire in your heart and the passion in your brain to keep going.”

All local professionals at the breakfast agreed there is a national shortage of qualified automotive technicians.

Ray LaNier from Wayside Auto Body in Denton, Md., said attitude has a lot to do with how successful the students will be. “Sussex Tech  has the advantage [going into the industry] because they have the necessary background,” said LaNier. “Their only limits are those they put on themselves.”