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Need for auto techs gives MCC reason to build facility

Posted at 4:35 PM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 17:35:01-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Metro Community College student Fren Mata is in familiar territory, working on cars just like he does at his dad's shop.

"I could never hook a scanner up and tell him what's going on, so I really wasn't that useful,” says Mata.

But here at MCC, he's in the automotive technology program, giving him the training he needs to work in a shop the rest of his life.

"There is a lot of stuff you don't learn in the shop so that's why I came here," says Mata.

Mata is one of a rising number of students learning to be an auto technician at Metro, hoping to replace the baby boomer generation who's retiring at a rapid pace.

"Oh yeah they'll be a lot of opportunities because not a lot of people do it anymore," says student Jason Hiykel.

"We've got shops knocking on our door every day, asking, calling, hey do you have anybody we can train," says instructor, Joseph Baker.

Tim Nordquist at Baxter Auto is one of the people calling Metro asking for help in his shop.

Baxter already donates money and supplies to the program, while hiring over a dozen new graduates annually.

He says it's a changing industry, with more computers and technology going into new cars each year.

"They're really becoming more of a computer scientist to a degree, I think there's going to be a time where they actually have lab coats," says Tim Nordquist, Service director at Baxter.

The extra technology in cars is what many students are embracing.

"They're geared towards technology and when we're able to actually teach them using computers and scanners and things like that, they're more apt to working on a car then just using a wrench," says Baker.

Currently students in Metro's auto programs are split between two campuses, that'll change soon enough when a brand new facility is built here on the south campus which will house both programs.

The new $32 million auto center will be finished in two years. Giving students the feel of working in a real auto shop.

"We'll be able to share tools, it'll be cost effective for the college to be in one facility. We'll be able to basically mimic what's going on in industry but in a larger form," says Baker.