November 2020 Central Connection

November 2, 2020

Aspiring auto techs can jumpstart career

By Scott Miller
College Communications Senior Director

Author Ashleigh Brilliant said, “Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.”

Such could be said about Dan Janssen, owner of Holdrege-based Janssen Auto Group.

Dan Janssen in his shop in Holdrege where Holdrege and
Hildreth high school students are learning and
finetuning their auto tech skills. (Photo by Scott Miller 

For two years now, Janssen has worked hard to create a program to teach high school students the skills necessary to become automotive technicians. One of Janssen’s friends told him about a program called “Pistons to Pathways,” which began at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in 2018. Because most high schools do not have the resources to fund auto tech programs, students learn the skills at local auto dealerships. Students are taught by the dealership’s auto techs.

That was the idea. Now came the hard work of bringing the program to Holdrege.

“There were a lot of different pieces,” said Janssen.

Janssen contacted Holdrege Public Schools and Educational Service Unit 11 to gauge the interest and if the dual-credit program could be successful. Central Community College, which has an automotive technology program at the Hastings Campus, provided guidance on early college programming and credentialed one of Janssen’s auto techs to teach the courses, which allows the students to earn college credit. Janssen was able to secure first-year funding for the program from the Phelps County Development Corporation. A generous donation of tools from the Carriage House Foundation was a huge plus.

“Getting all those organizations together and the funding, that’s what took so long,” Janssen explained.

This is the program’s first semester and eight students have enrolled, five from Holdrege High School and three from Wilcox-Hildreth High School. Classes are held at Janssen Ford on Monday and Thursday evenings.

In addition to giving high school students a jumpstart on a potential career in the automotive industry, Janssen hopes to change the perception of auto techs.

“Unfortunately, in the last 10 to 20 years, the perception of an automotive technician is that they’re dirty, they work with their hands,” said Janssen.

However, he is quick to point out that the highly sophisticated technology involved in today’s car servicing can mean very good earning potential.

“I have several six-figure technicians working for me and people don’t realize that they can earn six figures as an auto technician,” said Janssen.

One of the students in the new automotive technology certificate program is Rylee Hursh, a senior at Wilcox-Hildreth. Before enrolling in the program, Hursh had some experience in working on cars gleaned from helping his grandfather. He said in the past, he was used to tearing down the engine to fix the problem. Now, Hursh has learned that it’s the other way around.

“There’s a lot more computer work and background that you have to learn before you can actually start tearing stuff apart,” said Hursh.

Hursh already has an automotive career path figured out. He is plans to attend a two-year college and then work for a company as an auto tech. Hursh’s ultimate goal is to own his own shop.

Holdrege senior Eric Almazan has been working on cars for most of his life and is considering a career in collision repair. Even so, he took advantage when the offer came along.

“It’s paid for and maybe I’ll learn some new stuff, maybe get more in depth into things,” said Almazan. “I think I’ve just enjoyed it from there and had a lot of fun learning some new stuff.”

Almazan has applied to CCC-Hastings.

“The certificate these students are earning will provide a smooth transition into the automotive technology diploma and degree awards at Central Community College,” said Dr. Nate Allen, dean of skilled and technical sciences. “It also creates a strong foundation for mechanical skills while reinforcing important skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.”

News briefs

New trees

Central Community College has received 10 trees for the Hastings Campus Tree Replacement project.

The trees are courtesy of the Free Trees for Fall Planting program, an effort of the Nebraska Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

CCC-Hastings was selected for the donation after numerous trees were destroyed by a heavy windstorm in August 2019.

The trees were planted on Oct. 14 and include one catalpa and shingle oak and two chinkapin oaks, Kentucky coffeetrees, sycamores and triumph elms.

Free Trees for Fall Planting is supported by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s Trees for Nebraska Towns Initiative funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Green college

Central Community College is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review.

The education services company features CCC in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges in 2019-20 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points in the process of choosing schools for the guide.

Board of Governors

Two members of the Central Community College Board of Governors are in the news.

Tom Pirnie and his wife, Sue, received the Distinguished Service Award from the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

Diane Keller began her term as president of the Nebraska Community College Association Board of Trustees in October.

From socializing to learning ...

Criminal justice instructor Michael David (above) lines up for the grub with several other individuals at the Criminal Justice Student Association kickoff event at Stolley Park. David said about 50 students and their families attended the event, getting the criminal justice program off to a good start for the fall semester at Central Community College. In addition to lunch, attendees played icebreaker games and spent time getting to know each other. The participants included Columbus, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Lexington and online students. “It was a great turnout and a good way to build camaraderie,” David said. (Photo by Jamey Peterson-Jones)
Grand Island High School students Luz Dominquez-Cayax and Jarrit Astudillo (below) are enrolled in CCC’s introduction to criminal justice class. In a recent session at the Grand Island Campus, they learned about fingerprinting and investigations from Grand Island Police Department Officer Robert Winton.  (Photo by Jamey Peterson-Jones)

Partnership, grant to enhance mechatronics

South Central College in Minnesota, in partnership with Central Community College, has received a $1,294,579 Advanced Technological Education Program Grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The two colleges will use the funding to implement the next phase of the Independent Mechatronics Education Curriculum (iMEC), a distance learning model developed by SCC in 2013 with a nearly $900,000 NSF grant. This phase will bring mechatronics education to rural high school students through partnerships with area school districts and businesses.

iMEC incorporates Independent Remote Experiential Learning Lab (iREAL) systems, which consist of training equipment identical to that in the college’s mechatronics lab. This allows students to complete their course lab work at remote locations with synchronized instruction.

Since 2000, CCC has received four major grants to develop and expand its mechatronics programs. Two Department of Labor grants helped build an interactive multimedia library to share with industries in the state and to develop a state-of-the-art mechatronics education center. The other two were NSF grants that helped to build and strengthen partnerships between the college, local business and secondary educators and to develop instrumentation and process control curriculum.

SCC and CCC will use the new NSF grant to launch the next generation iMEC 2.0. They will work together to bring iMEC 2.0 to rural high school students.

“Our vision is to bring mechatronics not only to students who already know they are interested in automation and robotics, but more importantly to those who may not even know this is a career possibility,” said Doug Laven, the SCC mechatronics instructor who developed iMEC and again serves as SCC’s NSF Principle Investigator for this new grant. “This is going to make a real difference in the lives of these students.”

“This is a great opportunity to engage and expose teachers and students to mechatronics and instrumentation careers which are in high demand and pay very well,” said Doug Pauley, CCC associate dean of training development. “It is exciting to see the incorporation of components that were successful in previous CCC grants, such as the business mentors, equipment and tuition sponsorships and the development of the business and industry leadership team.”

The grant uses a Training-the-Trainer format that will engage SCC and CCC faculty in assisting high school science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instructors to deliver course content. Students will take 12 credits remotely in high school to earn their iMEC 2.0 certificate. They can then enter the workforce or continue toward a mechatronics associate of applied science degree.

iMEC 2.0 also integrates Minnesota and Nebraska businesses representing energy, biofuels, food processing and manufacturing with secondary and college STEM educators and their students. It features professional development activities, school-business relationships and a mechatronics dual credit pathway using instructional aides to enhance the learning experience.

It’s all about the vote

People visiting Central Community College’s resource centers recently may have noticed exhibits timed to coincide with the Nov. 3 election. The Columbus (above) and Hastings campuses are focusing on the women’s suffrage movement while the Grand Island Campus is focusing on voting. (Photo by Dee Johnson)

Employee news

Columbus Campus

Tonya Huhman has resigned as health programming director.

Krynn Larson has been promoted from Academic Success Center director to area director of the TRIO program.

Alysha Linder and Patricia Oborny have joined the staff as nursing instructors.

Grand Island Campus 

Veronica Friesen has resigned as a nursing instructor.

Jessica Igo has been promoted from adult education coordinator to adult education director.

Kelsey Woitaszewski has been promoted from part-time to full-time nursing instructor.

Hastings Campus 

Robert Brewer has joined the staff as an environmental health and safety specialist.

Susan Kuta, recruiting systems coordinator, and Sandy Samuelson, regional director of training and development, have each earned a bachelor’s degree from Bellevue University. Kuta’s is in management and Samuelson’s is in business.

Roxann Holliday, dean of business and entrepreneurship, has been elected to the New West Central Board of the Combined Health Agencies Drive (CHAD). CHAD raises funds for Nebraska’s health charities, which in turn provide care and support for Nebraskans affected by a health diagnosis; fund community education and prevention programs; and support advocacy and medical research. CHAD has three boards of directors and a State Board Executive Committee. New members are elected by the full board.

Kearney Center

Catrina Gray has been promoted from Early College Pathway success coach to apprenticeship coordinator.

NCMPR awards 

Five employees have received District 5 Medallion awards from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. They were:

  • Amanda Groff, marketing director, first place for the spring campaign radio advertisements, second places for the COVID-19 radio advertisement and the Columbus fundraising campaign, and third place for the Columbus Case of Support publication.
  • Deserah Janke, Columbus Campus print shop coordinator and designer, third place for the Columbus Campus extended learning services catalog.
  • Emily Klimek, graphic designer, third place for the viewbook.
  • Scott Miller, college communications senior director, first place for the paramedicine story in the communication success story or crisis communication campaign category.
  • Tiffany Seybold, web content specialist, third places for the graduation microsite and the holiday E-card.