Contact: Alex Lyda;
For immediate release — May 6, 2022
(FARMERS BRANCH, Texas) — The Automotive Technology program at Dallas College recently opened its doors for an event chock-full of the latest cars, trucks, automotive parts — and a hefty dose of handshakes.
More than 40 dealers and manufacturers, from Chevrolet to Subaru, showcased their latest wares and previewed new model-year cars and trucks at Dallas College’s Brookhaven Campus earlier this month.
At the invitation of David McNabb, associate dean of advanced automotive technology, industry representatives were on campus for a full day to answer questions from hundreds of jobseekers and current students at the latest annual auto tech expo — the first Dallas College has had since the COVID-19 pandemic set in two years ago.
“Automotive techs are a dying breed, and not enough of them are being produced,” said James Saliva, the Infiniti service director for Crest Auto Group. “The traffic at the expo was awesome, and we walked away with the contact information for 73 students. Any one of them, even if it’s just one, we’d be lucky to have working with us. The training in those bays at Brookhaven is that good.”
Saliva and his team met with a host of instructors, staff and administrators also on site, amid a sea of competitors all of whom are passionate about educating the future workforce of auto technology. Other car and truck makers including Ford, GMC, Toyota, Honda, Mopar and Kubota were all present, in addition to more than 400 high school automotive program students throughout the day.
Amid the din of on-the-spot scholarships being awarded via a DJ who doubled as an auctioneer were students clasping hands with future employers while stuffing swag bags that included key chains, tire gauges, ball caps and sunglasses — and something much more valuable to their futures: business cards.
“This [expo] is an example of how Dallas College is owning the transition between high school and college by literally enrolling young adults in careers,” said Chancellor Justin Lonon. “The students who are here today have their eyes set on rewarding careers in automotive technology and are making the right moves to carve out great jobs for themselves even while studying. What the Auto Tech programs at Brookhaven, Eastfield and Cedar Valley have accomplished, not just in the classroom but with inroads to industry, is really what distinguishes Dallas College.”
Tony Molla, ASE Education Foundation Texas field manager from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, a professional certification group that accredits training programs and certifies professionals in the automotive repair and service industry in the United States and Canada, was staffing a table near the entrance of the expo as he surveyed interested students pouring in.
“Whenever you see this level of interest among people who are just beginning to realize their passion, it’s inspiring,” Molla said. “Our job is to support these students, especially as they go out into the workforce and develop skills that need to be kept on the cutting edge, not only for safety and industry certifications but also for success in their careers.”
By day’s end, after the wheeling and dealing was done, there was room for some levity. High school students gathered around an antique pink Lincoln Continental and a lowered Honda S2000 brought in for display toward the back of the bays. (The Honda racked up more selfies.)
“We worked with every dealer in the crowd, and all said it was one of the best they’d ever been to,” McNabb said. “One high school instructor texted me after the fact that he had to ‘drag’ his guys back to the bus as they didn’t want to leave.”
The next expo is already being planned for April 2023 and will showcase even more representatives from industry, so that the well-trained auto technician doesn’t face extinction.
“We strive to be at events like that across the nation, and we believe it’s important to help place students in these jobs, whether it’s with Ford or another manufacturer,” says Shaun Smith, Dallas-area regional technician placement specialist for Ford Motor Company. “The Dallas College Ford ASSET program at Brookhaven is the premiere program in the nation, and that’s because the people at Brookhaven are so passionate about automotive education. Our collective goal is to find young, aspiring technicians and help them help themselves. You can’t buy a certification like the one offered at Dallas College, and days like this are considered a prime opportunity for us. As an industry, we’re coming together to share information and collaborate to join forces to meet the industry’s needs.”
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