Tuesday, 28 February 2017 17:16

Returning OTC Graduates Provide Real-World Mechanic Experience

Written by Steve R. Koehler, Ozarks Technical Community College

Returning OTC Graduates Cotham

OTC graduate Tyler Cotham (submitted photo)


OTC (Ozarks Technical College) graduates Tyler Cotham and Cory Malicoat believe education is the only way to keep pace with the constant changes in the automotive industry, where technology is as vital to a car or truck as spark plugs and tires.

Each one graduated from OTC’s automotive programs in Springfield, MO. After gaining years in the professional motor vehicle field, both have returned to OTC this year as teachers to pass along their knowledge to students who will be the next generation of mechanics and collision repair technicians.

 

“I just like to give back to the students,” Malicoat said. “I want to give them that real world experience every day."

 

Cotham, who graduated from Republic High School, said almost all automotive work involves some sort of electronics work.

 

“It’s more complicated than in earlier years,” said Cotham. “A student needs a good understanding of electronics, math, theory. You need a lot of education to go on and successfully repair cars.”

 

The Auto Collision Repair Technology and Automotive Technology programs are two of 18 college technical education programs offered at OTC, which is marking National Career and Technical Education Month in February.

 

“Technical education offers students the necessary training to advance toward good jobs and stable incomes,” said Matt Hudson, director of technical education at OTC.

 

“There is a dramatic need for providing well-trained students, and at OTC, we can fill those jobs with our graduates.”

 

Malicoat, also a Republic graduate, put his A+ scholarship to work when he came to OTC.

 

“Using A+ was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going to waste that free money,” he said.

 

Returning OTC Graduates Malicoat
OTC graduate Cory Malicoat (submitted photo)

 

Malicoat, who comes from a family of mechanics, graduated from OTC in 2010 with his automotive collision repair degree and went to work for Thompson Cadillac for a number of years before moving to Reliable Chevrolet about a year ago.

 

When he was given an opportunity to teach at OTC, Malicoat took it. He knew there were a lot of students who needed to learn about all aspects of automotive technology.

 

“There are a lot of computers in cars. There’s programming that needs to be done from cruise control to parking assistance. There are a lot of finesse things. Just changing a windshield, if it contains various detectors, can be complicated to replace,” he said.

 

Cotham was a dual credit student at OTC, which helped him earn college credits while attending Republic High School. He was also an A+ student, which pays for community college tuition for two years.

 

“A+ was a tremendous help financially and I was able to use my degree to earn a living. I really liked working on cars and I got to work at Reliable Chevrolet for three years after graduating,” he said.

 

Cotham graduated from OTC in May 2013 with an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology and an Associate of Arts in Teaching. He then transferred to Drury University and completed his Bachelor of Science in Education in May 2015.

 

Last year, Cotham started teaching at Bolivar High School, where he is developing the school’s automotive program. He also started teaching automotive electronics at OTC last semester.

 

“OTC has a top-notch facility. The equipment they have to work with is outstanding. Everyone has put a lot of effort into making technical education a first-class operation,” Cotham said.

 

We would like to thank the Springfield News-Leader for reprint permission.

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