This archived article was written by: Chase D’Ambrosio
The automotive mechanics course at the College of Eastern Utah seems to not only be a course to help students build a solid foundation for a well-developed career, it also is a solid foundation for a well developed life. Students enrolled into the program have partaken in many extracurricular activities that not only better the student’s character but their surrounding community as well.
Students enroll in classes that they enjoy, that is one of the many pleasures about college as opposed to high school. Students are able to select classes that interest them and help them develop the skills needed for their desired career. Not many students have a course that will teach them knowledge that they need to know for their careers and teach them one of the most significant of life lessons; and that is to give back. CEU’s automotive mechanics course developed a hands on approach that not only allows the students to work on cars but allows them to give back to the community.
Every year the automotive students are given a vehicle; they restore it and give it back to the community to help someone in need. Last year was not any different when Phil Brown donated an early ’90s model Mitsubishi Expo to the department. When the students received the car it was what some might say a “work in progress.”
The students worked on the car throughout the year, and turned it into the masterpiece in which it always had potential to be. With help from fundraisers and donations, they were able to completely rebuild the engine, replaced all the hoses and belts, fix major electrical problems as well as many other things that were wrong with the car.
Like all classes, the automotive students have a schedule to maintain, which means that if the class is learning about the electrical parts of a car, they cannot rebuild an engine during class hours. This meant most of the work put into this vehicle was completely volunteered by the students. Most of the work was completed by the end of last year and finished by new students this year.
The Mitsubishi Expo was presented to the active re-entry program October 11, 2006 and donated to a family in need. Due to lack of funds, the students were not able to purchase a battery, tires or a new windshield for the car. The director of the automotive department, Stan Martineau said “If a few families gave a few dollars, the battery would be paid for in no time”.
Besides restoring and donating vehicles to those in need, the automotive department has different projects that challenge the students academically, physically and emotionally.
Throughout the past few years, students donated time to help the underprivileged as well as mentally and physically handicapped. Every year the automotive department as well as the other departments in the career center allow students from the Castle Valley Center to visit their shops and take an hour-long guided tour. Throughout the tour, the students as well as the instructors describe and show the students from the center what every machine does and how they work. The students at the Castle Valley Center show their appreciation by sending the automotive department a thank you poster with all of their names on it.
Two years ago a handicapped youth dreamt of being able to go on a hike and personally enjoy the outdoors. The automotive and the welding departments designed and created a special cart for the youth. The cart allowed the youth’s wheel chair to sit securely inside, while people would push him and pull him through the wilderness, allowing for the young man to fulfill his dream. The trip consisted of a 15-mile hike through the wilderness. Paraticipants helped the youth cross everything from rivers to mud holes, and he couldn’t have had any more fun.