Campus News

Revealing the art of auto tech

Amidst sensors, tools, engines, computers and exhausts, life in the world of automotive mechanics is arguably its own science.  In fact, the profession comes with a set of testing metrics among multiple technical variables, as well as standard emissions rules and regulations. However, it is a career in high demand, where the college’s automotive technical students train daily to help alleviate both state and national shortages in the field.

Therefore, to assist with on-going uncertainty in the profession, the Kirkwood Community College’s Automotive Technician program, housed in the Industrial Technologies Division, holds an annual open house to showcase the daily preparation, rigors and intensive training involved in career preparation for today’s automotive mechanics.  

“The purpose of the annual open house is to inform the public about the opportunities that we have here [at Kirkwood] to become skilled in the automotive program,” said Todd Hesseltine, automotive technology professor.

As part of the 72-credit hour program, which leads to an Associate’s of Applied Science degree, students are trained in all eight ASE major systems which include A1 engine repair, A2 and A3 automatic and manual transmissions, suspensions, brakes, electrical systems and engine performance among others, Hesseltine said.  Additionally, they are able to obtain specialized skills in the department’s Subaru Training Program and work on vehicles eight years or newer, which include   cars from students, faculty or the general public.

Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate an average of 73,000 openings for auto mechanics projected each year within the current decade. However, many of these job openings are due to mechanics in the field either transferring to other occupations, leaving the workforce altogether or retiring.  As a result, a very strong need for talented automobile workers is now extremely vital.

  As a result, the Iowa College Aid Commission, which provides programs and financial resources for students to attain higher levels of education, has designated the Last Dollar Scholarship to help students defray costs in automotive mechanics programs throughout the state.  Kirkwood is one of more than 10 programs of its kind in the state.

 [“Events of this kind] provides high school students, their families and community members with information about [the program] at Kirkwood and careers in the automotive industry,” said Emily Logan, dean of Industrial Technologies. “[Additionally,] Kirkwood faculty are always looking for ways to reach young people in automotive technology,” she said.

Auto Tech Career and Program Facts:

  • Two-year program
  • Five semesters including one summer
  • Earn an A.A.S.
  • Must attend a one hour program conference to qualify for the program
  • 72 credit hours
  • 74 students currently enrolled in the program
  • Program is eligible for state’s Last Dollar Scholarship
  • Average state salary is $38,550
  • Cedar Rapids average salary is $47,060
  • U.S. average salary is $46,880

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