RCC hosts local eighth-graders for Automotive Day

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Local middle school students participate in a paint activity as part of Automotive Day on Friday, Nov. 8, in the Richard Petty Education Center at Randolph Community College.

ASHEBORO (Nov. 12, 2019)

Randolph Community College hosted 200 eighth-graders from the eight Randolph County School System and Asheboro City Schools middle schools on Friday, Nov. 8, for Automotive Day to kick off National Apprenticeship Week, which is Nov. 11-17.

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RCC Automotive Systems Technology Department Head Don Ashley gives a demonstration.
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A students takes part in one of the hands-on activities.
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Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology Department Head W.T. Brewer speaks to students.

The event was held to highlight both the Automotive Systems Technology (AST) apprenticeship opportunities and the classes students can take in the AST and Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology at RCC when they are in high school. Students participated in several hands-on activities, including wiring, measuring, painting, damage repair, and tire maintenance, and also saw ScanTool and paint booth demonstrations at the Richard Petty Education Center. Students were able to discuss careers in the automotive world as they went from station to station. The students also toured the corporate headquarters for J.P. Thomas & Co. Inc. and their East Coast Tires, Wheels, & Equipment; Thomas Tire & Automotive, and Ready-To-Mount divisions.

Archdale-Trinity Middle School student Jacob Proctor, whose grandpa is a mechanic, said the event was “pretty cool. I’m learning things I didn’t know.”

“My father is a welder,” Northeastern Randolph Middle School student KatieJo Staley said, noting she was interested in Automotive Systems Technology as a career. “He teaches me more about that than cars, so I thought I’d learn about cars and bring those together. The paint [demonstration] was neat.”

The experience left a mark on the RCC instructors, too.

“Automotive Day was a blast,” AST Department Head Don Ashley said. “It was one of the best student engagement tours we have ever experienced. It was fun — the students were actively participating in the demonstrations. I hope they learned quite a bit more about what the automotive systems and collision repair technicians experience.”

“I loved the Automotive Day — all of the kids had fun and were engaged and seemed interested,” Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology Department Head W.T. Brewer added. “I think my instructors had more fun than the students.”

Apprenticeship Randolph — which began in June 2016 as a collaboration among Randolph Community College, the Randolph County School System, Asheboro City Schools, the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce, and local manufacturers — opened the Automotive Systems Technology program to youth apprentices this year and signed its first group of apprentices in August. The goal of the Apprenticeship Randolph is to bridge both the interest and skill gaps in modern manufacturing and provide a vehicle for expanding the workforce pool for advance manufacturing in the county. With tuition funded through Career and College Promise and the N.C. Youth Apprenticeship Tuition Waiver Program and books paid for by the school systems and the participating companies, Apprenticeship Randolph produces an educated, skilled, debt-free workforce.

Apprenticeship Randolph, which is for high school juniors and seniors, begins with a six-week, pre-apprenticeship summer program that consists of two RCC classes and 40 hours per week of on-the-job training. Once a business selects its apprentice after this trial period, the program is spread over four years with students receiving paid, on-the-job training while earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Manufacturing Technology, Automotive Systems Technology, or Information Technology through RCC and a Journeyworker Certificate from the N.C. Community College System and U.S. Department of Labor.