Automotive Systems Technology at Surry Community College In-depth


If you want a career as a mechanic, Surry
Community College can send you on the road to a bright future with the Automotive Systems
Technology program. Students learn how to apply technical knowledge
and skills to repair, service, and maintain all types of automobiles. High school juniors and seniors can take Automotive
Systems Technology classes tuition-free through the Career & College Promise dual enrollment
program. Surry’s instructors are certified by the
National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. Night classes are offered. Hello, my name is David Weavil, and I am the
Lead Automotive Instructor here for the Automotive Systems Technology at Surry Community College. Within this program, students learn to be
successful automotive mechanics. This is a very hands-on program. The students do work in the classroom and
learn the basics in the classroom through lecture, but the majority of work is done
in the shop through hands-on learning in the lab setting here in the V-Building at Surry
Community College. Students learn how to do the basic service
items such as rotate tires, oil changes, changing cabin filters, transmission services and other
routine car maintenance items. Then, they learn how to replace the brake
pads, repair electrical systems, work on automatic and manual transmissions. Students will know how to troubleshoot engine
performance and make repairs to their cars through the program. They will also deal with suspension, steering
and drive train issues along with learning how to fix heating and air condition systems. In the lab we do a variety of work. One day we might be running a Power Balance
Test on a car to determine what is making it misfire. Another day, we will be aligning cars. We may be working on heating and air conditioning
systems. We may be working with electronics. We also teach students about alternative fuel
vehicles, hybrids and the most modern automotive technology systems available. One topic we work on or talk about is car
hacking. A modern car can be hacked – computer hacked,
meaning that the car functions could be taken over by an outside source, and that is a real
concern in automotive technology. And we do talk about that, deal with that
and learn about that, as well as for instance self-driving cars and how we believe that
will be really big in the future. We also take field trips to race shops, speedways,
and some salvage yards to learn different aspects of the automotive technology field. Within the salvage yards, we do scavenger
hunts to learn what different systems look like on the cars. They have to find certain items and how they
differ from car to car. Degree and diploma seeking students can enroll
in Work-Based Learning, which allows them to work for a company and earn college credit
at the same time. These students enjoy networking in the industry
while also gaining experience with the top of the line equipment right on campus. One of the great things about Surry Community
College is the state-of-the-art equipment that we have here. The guys behind me right now are using the
snap-on MODIS, which is a cutting edge technology for checking engine lights, scanning cars
and things of that nature. We also have a new front end alignment machine,
a great tire balancer – lot of good equipment here at Surry. Students also learn proper and safe work practices
as defined by OSHA for clothing, eye protection and how to handle tools, power equipment,
and the correct storage and disposal of chemicals. We teach them how to run their own garages
how to be employed as an automotive technicians or shop foremen. They also leave the Automotive System Technology
program knowing how to communicate with their employers and their customers about the repair
and service needs. Mechanics make about about $37,000 per year
on average and have the freedom to go into business for themselves or decide to work
for someone. My plans after graduating from Surry Community
College is to work for a dealership. I currently work right now, but I want to
do a dealership after I graduate, and maybe 15 to 20 years from now build up enough money
to own my own shop. I love working with my hands. That’s why I am in this program. As a kid, I have always told myself, man,
I am good with my hands. What can I do to make with my hands? As I grew older, I started liking vehicles
and fast cars, and I have always wanted to know what I can do to improve a vehicle or
a car in general. I love a lot of things about this program. They teach us a lot, and I learn a lot from
it too. One of the most interesting things is how
to align a car. You go in a shop or you go to this dealership,
and they work on your car, but you don’t know exactly how they do it. Until you are in it or experience it, it’s
a total different world down there underneath the car, and it’s amazing how you learn
from it and how every vehicle, trucks, muscle cars and sports cars are different. Part of the reason I chose Surry other than
any other college is because they’re always on top of up-to-date new equipment. For an example, it could be for the AC machine,
alignment racks and tools, and tools especially…Good thing I chose this college because they are
up to date on tools. Student Cory Moxley decided to commute to
Surry Community College from his home because he wanted the mechanics lab experience that
wasn’t offered nearby. The 40-minute drive was hard at first, but
I knew the instructors here are great, the equipment and stuff like that. It’s really good learning experience and
learning environment as well. So that kept me going, coming to Surry. It’s a lot of hands-on work, you know, you
will be in the room studying up on subjects whether it be brakes or engines, but three-quarters
of the class is going to be out in the shop – hands work. That’s what I enjoy the most. This is my friend’s Allen’s car. Right now we are getting ready to rebuild
the transmission. We took it out. It’s on a table in there in the transmission
room, and next semester we have the manual transmission class, so we are going to try
to rebuild it there. One of the coolest things we were doing…It
was an engine repair class. Mr. Weavil actually picked up a 350 engine
from a junk yard that had a bad engine knock with it. So, what we did is, we completely stripped
it down, re-bored the cylinders inside the engine and got a full rebuild kit…So, it’s
kind of cool to get to do stuff that is hands-on, and it will actually pay off in the long end
by someone actually getting to use it. After I graduate, I probably am going to try
to get in on a smaller shop. I live in Sparta, so there are a few shops
around there I could go to, maybe here in Dobson even. But, eventually, I want to work in a dealership. Subaru is really what I am looking for. I am really into Subarus, so anything to do
with that would be something I would be happy with. Students can earn a degree, a diploma, or
certificate in Automotive Systems Technology at Surry Community College and can be prepared
to take the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence exam when they graduate. They will also be ready for full-time employment
in dealerships and repair shops. For more information, go to www.surry.edu. You can also follow the program on Facebook
@surryautomotive.