Trustees with Rocky View Schools (RVS) were given an overview of a training program run through the division in partnership with Cam Clark Ford at their regular meeting Jan. 11.
Teacher and journeyman mechanic Steve Teasdale said the program offers students in grades 10 through 12 an opportunity to learn basic auto mechanic skills – but it also teaches them much more.
“The information and skill you can build from this in one semester is limitless. It doesn’t just lead to mechanics, it leads to all trade because you build the work ethic in the students and then they can go wherever they want,” he said. “The program isn’t for everyone. The program suits best for students who are interested in mechanics, who are interested in working because that’s what the shop is.”
Students in the program spend half of each school day for one semester at the fully-equipped shop at Cam Clark Ford. The shop has four bays and three vehicle hoists. Customers book appointments with the training centre to have work such as tire rotations, vehicle inspections and basic maintenance completed by the students.
“We streamline that work to accommodate student learning. There are tasks within the automotive field that are too complex, too complicated for high school students. Jobs that are too complex, we will turn away,” Teasdale said.
“Safety is a priority. I joke with students that if you can’t count to ten on your fingers at the end of the semester, then there’s a problem.”
Students learn about basic vehicle systems, including how the engine works, emission systems, fuel systems, etc. A donated vehicle is disassembled in the Grade 10 level class and students are tasked with putting it back together. Students also learn how to appraise a vehicle. Class size is limited to 18 students to ensure a lot of personal instruction.
Cam Clark Ford provides the training facility and maintains the equipment for the division at no cost. A number of students who have gone through the program have ended up getting hired on at the dealership.
The Mechanics Training Centre will be hosting an open house Jan. 24 from noon to 8 p.m. Students will be there working on vehicles and demonstrating what they’ve learned in the program.