Under the hood

Great Mills High School senior Dylan Nickless, center, looks under the hood of one of the donated vehicles last Thursday while Leonardtown High School senior Dylan Farrell, right, reaches for a part sticking up out of the engine block and other students at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center look on.

Practice makes perfect when repairing vehicles, and students who want to work in the auto industry now have two more cars to work on at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center.

Emily Cunningham and Kyle Carranza, local State Farm insurance agents, met on Nov. 8 with teacher Mike Stevens, students and school administrators to donate two 2008 Nissan Altima vehicles to the center’s auto repair and refinishing classes to assist in the school’s collision repair training program. Both of the vehicles had been declared to be totaled prior to being donated, Cunningham said.

Ann Johnson, the school’s vocational support and teacher-in-charge, said students can apply the skills they learn at the Forrest center classes “to real world collision issues.”

“We’re extremely fortunate [the insurance company] thought of us when they made their donation,” she said.

She said “safety is key” in any of the classes offered at the center. First-year students attending the auto repair and refinishing classes learn the basics before working with their hands on projects, she said, adding that students in the third year of the program can bring in their own vehicles to work on.

Chopticon High School senior Caleb Hare said last week “it was nice” for the cars to be donated to the program because students “get to learn [about] different models, different accidents, because nothing is ever the same.”

He said he enjoys participating in the auto repair and refinishing classes because it offers “a lot of hands-on activities [and] you’re not sitting at a desk.” A hopeful auto mechanic, Hart said he has learned more about the tools used in the industry.

Leonardtown High School senior Dylan Farrell said he was “looking forward to learning” more about the later model vehicles and eventually working in a family friend’s auto shop.

Great Mills High School senior Dylan Nickless said he enjoys what he’s learning in the auto refinishing program. He said “its a nice hobby to fall back on” if his wrestling dreams don’t take off.

Stevens said “it’s awesome” for the students to get their hands on the later model vehicles. He said anyone is welcome to donate cars and trucks to the program. “The more we can get the better, so they can learn the tech,” the teacher said.

He said the auto repair and refinishing program will also fix up vehicles brought to them for a small fee. “We only charge for materials, and the labor is free,” he said.

With advancements in vehicle technology — like high strength steel, sophisticated electronics and multiple airbag systems — knowing where and how to efficiently hone repair skills on later model vehicle vehicles provides the best training outside the classroom, Dwayne Redd, State Farm public affairs specialist said in a release. Vehicle donations like these provide “a valuable hands-on opportunity to practice techniques specifically on newer and more intricate model vehicles,” the release states.

Redd said in the release that with “limited budgets, schools welcome the opportunity to receive additional practice, especially on newer vehicles equipped with the most current systems. This hands-on practice enables students to best prepare for their future in the automotive field.”

Cunningham said, “We’re happy to do … anything we can to give back locally [and] to further the education” of students seeking to work in auto repair.

Twitter: @JacquiEntNews

Twitter: @JacquiEntNews