This is not your traditional classroom. Instead of chalkboards and desks, the students in the Center for Career and Technology Education automotive internship program attend classes in a shop filled with engines, car jacks and tools.
Thanks to a partnership between CCTE and the EPISD Transportation Department, about 10 students this semester are getting hands-on training through the internship program in hopes of helping them further their education.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to get real-life experience out in the field that they are interested in,” said Jason Zamora, EPISD’s Assistant Auto Shop Fleet Coordinator. “We love having the kids around because they bring a passion and eagerness to the shop. It’s a great program.”
As part of their internship, the CCTE students are responsible for assisting professional technicians on repairs to the district’s fleet, which includes maintenance vans and school buses.
This means that the transportation hub on Boeing Drive is now the students’ classroom.
The unique learning experience at CCTE allows students to choose a career path and work toward it through specialized classes and activities, including these internships for the automotive diesel program.
Students hope to get advanced training and even certification in a specialized field by the time they graduate from high school.
“Here, I can make a mistake and have someone help me fix it and learn from it,” he said. “In the real world, I will be on my own.”
Interns are expected to learn not only the technical aspects of working at a shop, but the entire process — from when a vehicle arrives at the shop, to the diagnosis and repairs. Technicians are even teaching them about the paperwork that is involved in the process.
“What helps us out is that we already have a passion for this,” says Sanchez.
Students are taking their passion for car repair beyond the internship and into their own homes and even outside jobs at local shops.
Intern Robert Conan is interested in the aesthetic part of the automotive world and is currently working on his 1970 Chevrolet Nova in order to enter it in car shows.
For his part, Sanchez leans more towards the performance aspect of car tuning and enjoys testing the limits on his own car.
Zamora wants the students to benefit as much as they can from the internship by working along the technicians and asking questions.
“I want my techs to see that what we do is important and that everything impacts the students,” he said. “This will help them see their impact on the kids directly.”