By Kara Burnett and Joshua Pietzold
Suffolk County Community College was named a national Top 20 school for their automotive technology by Tomorrow’s Tech Magazine in mid-September and is in the running to be School of the Year.
The program was acknowledged for its hands-on approach in technological advances based on recommendations from students and alumni, according to Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) Automotive Technology Assistant Professor Jordan Berger.
“I want our students to come and feel so tired because they worked so hard, that when they enter the real world they can be knowledgeable and marketable,” Berger said.
The school submitted a program highlight video, waiting to see if it’ll be selected as one of the four finalists in the competition for School of the Year. Tomorrow’s Tech Magazine will declare a winner on October 31st.
The winner of the competition gets a donation of $2,500, gear and other perks from the magazine’s sponsors, WIX Filters and O’Reilly Auto Parts.
SCCC is the only school on Long Island to be acknowledged for its automotive tech program, a huge recognition for a relatively small program in a community college of 27,000 students.
“It’s a secret, but we don’t want it to be,” said Jeffrey LoSardo, the school’s professional assistant of 11 years, when describing the program.
The students work with donated cars from General Motors, Honda and Toyota.
“Students are receiving real-world experience for a career that cannot be outsourced overseas. Keeping up with automotive technology is one the biggest challenges automotive technicians face. Dedication to this career path means a life-long learning process. I’m encouraged and impressed by the instructors and students in these programs,” Jennifer Clements, Editor for Tomorrow’s Tech Magazine, said.
Class at SCCC is interactive and gets students directly involved with the technology they’re learning about.
“We go into class for about 20 or 25 minutes, getting our thoughts together about what we’re going to be learning and then going into the shop and actually doing what we learned,” Al Ririzarry, an automotive technology for Toyota and Lexus major, explained.
The students feel that the skills they’re learning in the program will translate to the job market.
“Some people get degrees and they’re still stuck working at food stores or making 13 dollars at the end of the day, but I know after this I’m gonna be put in a good spot,” James Wilson, an SCCC student, said.
Mohamad Zoghi, the Acting Chair of Farmingdale’s Automotive Technology Department, expanded on where graduates from automotive programs go.
“Students that do the two year program go to dealerships and work in service departments and local mechanic shops, and those that do the four years go into sales departments or sometimes insurance companies,” he said.
The need for students in the automotive field is there, according to Tom Mayer, a service adviser for Automotive Technology of West Islip.
“There is a growing need for technicians in the field, when we try to find people it’s hard to find those who are qualified, we get much better results with people who have gone through school,” Mayer explained.
There are over 30 trade schools on Long Island with automotive programs, but none with the recognition that SCCC has developed for their program.