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Auto Tech Students Get Experience While Servicing CNM Fleet

Career technical education students at CNM learn real-world skills that can have an immediate impact. Look no further than the Automotive Technology program, where even first-term students get their hands dirty performing maintenance on actual, running automobiles, namely the 53 vehicles in the CNM fleet and motor pool.

Aug 30, 2016

June 2012

Career technical education students at CNM learn real-world skills that can have an immediate impact. Look no further than the Automotive Technology program, where even first-term students get their hands dirty performing maintenance on actual, running automobiles, namely the 53 vehicles in the CNM fleet and motor pool.

"Students have always done some maintenance, but now about 80% of the work can be handled that way," CNM Fleet Maintenance Coordinator Eric Christian says, "It's a win-win situation. Students get practical experience and earn class credit, and CNM saves money on fleet operations. Year-to-date, we've saved $8,328. On one job, CNM saved about $2,000. The rear end went out on an S-10 pickup. We had an old Security vehicle that wasn't running any more, so we swapped it out from that instead of having to buy new parts."

Christian has been in his current position since last October. He reports to Parking and Transportation Services Supervisor Michelle Guajardo and works closely with the School of Applied Technologies. This term, AT instructor Scott Neiber and his Intro to Auto Systems students are handling most of the routine service, such as oil changes, tune-ups, inspections and preventive maintenance. More complex repairs – brakes, transmissions or electrical problems – are performed by students in second, third or higher-term classes who are studying the appropriate systems.

"We're setting up a website for scheduling and maintenance requests," Christian adds. "The way we've been doing it is ancient... paper, a little work in Microsoft® Outlook. It's fun to be a part of modernizing the system."

First-term student Santos Valdez enjoys the experience.

"I've always been fascinated by cars," he says. "My dad and my uncle are both mechanics; my uncle is a car mechanic and my dad works on diesel engines and farm equipment. I've been working on cars for three years, in a parts store and a wrecking yard. I've taken all my pre-reqs, and now I'm in the core classes. The plan is to get my certificate and work part-time while I study for an associate degree.

"This is an excellent program, with great instructors," he adds. "They don't rush you, but take the time to make sure you understand. There's always someone in the shop to help – instructors from other classes, advanced students. it's different, actually pretty good."