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Auto-tech students on road to new jobs page 2
Enrollment is already rising at Germanna's new automotive technology facility in Stafford County.

 Germanna's automotive training facility near Stafford Regional Airport has a classroom, a computer lab and two auto labs with four bays each.
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Date published: 9/19/2012

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That includes about a half dozen students from James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg who enrolled as part of the college's dual enrollment program.

James Monroe is the first high school in the region to establish a dual enrollment program for automotive training, but Germanna hopes to soon have similar arrangements set up with other high schools in the region, college spokesman Mike Zitz said.

Sam has said the facility can handle as many as 150 students.

Stafford's Economic Development Authority provided a $75,000 grant to help construct the building, which the college leases from Fredericksburg-based commercial real estate developer Michael Adams, owner of JON Properties.

PASSION AND PRAGMATISM

Monday morning, students began in the classroom, learning the nuances of cambers, casters and toes for a lesson on alignments.

After a short break, they moved to the adjoining bays to apply their knowledge.

Suarez, who lives in Culpeper and spent 24 years repairing office equipment, brought in his 1997 BMW Z3 for his team to work on since the sports car needed front-end work.

Students primarily work on cars donated by manufacturers or private individuals, but they also work on a fellow student's car if it needs repairs they are studying.

Used cars provide the opportunity to see real-life wear and tear; new cars give students a chance to learn about the latest advances, Wilson said.

The goal is to provide a broad variety of experiences for students by having them work on all types of cars, using all the tools of the trade.

"We'd really like to have a couple hybrids," he added.

A handful of students worked together on Monday, removing a tie rod, the lower control arm and bushings from Suarez's car, applying their book knowledge on suspensions and steering.

Suarez is taking classes in person and online this semester to get his auto technician certificate.

As someone with a long-held love for cars, Suarez said, he enjoys gaining a deeper understanding of vehicle maintenance and repair. But his interest goes beyond passion to the pragmatic.

"My goal is to open my own shop," Suarez said. "I've already owned my own business, so I'd rather work for myself."

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Email: pgould@freelancestar.com


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