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TCAT producing top-notch auto technicians

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Automotive Department is first rate and ready to produce Automotive Service Excellence-certified, entry-level technicians.

Automotive Department instructor Richard Nash has been with TCAT for three years as an instructor. Prior to coming to TCAT, he was an ASE-certified automotive technician for 20 years and found the career very rewarding. He graduated from a similar program and is pleased to be in his current teaching role.

“The program is a 20-month program, teaching all eight areas of ASE certification – brakes, steering/suspension, engine repair, heating/AC systems, electrical systems, engine performance, automatic transmissions, and manual transmissions,” said Nash.

The course is hands-on with each student learning at his or her own pace. After instruction in all 8 areas of ASE certification is complete, students are able to apply to take a certification exam.

The average age of students seeking this type of training is 20. However, recently more students are coming to TCAT directly from high school.

Classroom hours are 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and typically begin in the computer lab each morning for two hours. The remainder of the day is spent in the automotive shop.

The shop consists of five bays for the 16 students currently enrolled. Nash runs his classroom like a real-world automotive shop, noting that when the bell rings at 8 am, all students must be present and wearing a uniform.

Nash noted a common misconception in the public is that an automotive technician hooks up the vehicle to the computer and the computer tells him/ her what is wrong.

“That’s certainly not all there is to it,” said Nash. “The technician must have the proper training to know the correct parameters to recognize whether or not the vehicle is falling short.”

The computer in question can be quite intimidating, Nash says.

“This piece of equipment costs well over $10,000 and is very high-tech and it takes a trained technician to run it,” he said. In order for students to continue using this type of equipment after their training and certification, TCAT partners with Snap-On Tools, offering students a significant discount on tools to begin their careers.

When asked how he fills the garage with motors to repair, Nash stated, “We repair student, faculty/ staff, and training vehicles such as the 2019 Nissan Altima engine donated by Nissan.” Recently, McMinnville Electric System took its commercial-grade wood chipper to TCAT for a major engine repair. Nash was eager to bring in the failed chipper to expose his students to this type of engine repair as an alternative to automotive repair. The need for this type of skill set is critical in many aspects of business today, he said.

TCAT offers many other fields of study including welding, machine tool technology, industrial maintenance which includes robotics, computer information technology, industrial electricity, and nursing programs.

Nash’s goal is to give each student an opportunity to take what he/ she has learned and develop a great career.

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