OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Metropolitan Community College’s new automotive training center opened this semester and they believe the industry is paying attention.

”(We teach) what would normally be considered the four year college stuff, the electronics, the critical thinking, things along that line,” MCC Automotive Program Coordinator AL Cox said. “That’s the entry-level skill set for today’s technician.”

“Right now they are hiring our students before they even graduate and sponsoring them and helping them with tuition just to get technicians through the doors,” said Auto Collision Instructor Pat Mckibbin. “They’re very ready to go to work when they leave here. They come out of here with credentials, they come out of here with an associates degree, they come out of here with a ton of training on all late model cars, so its a very good field to be in and the industry is very hungry for these people coming out of here right now.”

Mckibbin rattles off more than a dozen potential careers on the collision side alone before he says this program is what a fast-changing industry needs. And he thinks that the electronics and computers are attracting new groups to the industry.

“Car people are car people, but it’s gotten very technical,” Mckibbin said. “Electronics, cars park themselves now, cars drive themselves now. There’s a ton of electronics in a car, so even kids who like the IT field, this is not a bad field for them.”

The definition of a robot is a machine that can carry out a complex series of actions automatically, usually with computers. That means the robots are here and driving us home.

”There are more computers on today’s cars then there are on most space shuttle flights,” Cox said. He said that students aren’t the only ones working to stay up on top of the latest tech. “Personally, I have already over 80 hours of training outside of educational needs just to stay up to date with today’s automobiles. The average technician probably spends a minimum of 20-50 hours a year just getting new model updates.”

Mckibbin agrees.

“Used to be every shade tree mechanic could work on a car,” he said. “There (are) so many electronics, and so much technology in these cars that you have to be trained. Even the senior techs that are out there go back every year for training so they can learn how to work on these new cars. It’s an ongoing education.”

In addition to more than 20 credit courses being taught this summer, the MCC training center is also home to the T-Ten program which trains auto techs for a career working in Toyota and Lexus dealerships.

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By Tara