Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation in 2014 making it possible for CA community colleges to set up pilot baccalaureate programs and Rio Hondo will be the only community college that offers a degree in Automotive Technology.
Mike Slavich, the Division Dean of Career and Technical Education programs, said they will offer a technical track and a business marketing track.
“What’s unique about Rio Hondo is their four-year program is in automotive technology,” said Gene Lopez, I-CAR National Fields Operation Manager. Lopez previously taught at Rio Hondo for Slavich.
Although Lopez said he is pleased the automotive technology department will be offering this program for students, he also said it is unfortunate that the collision repair program is being discontinued.
As a result, he said, “We don’t have an opportunity to continue to hire technicians from Rio Hondo College. We don’t have an opportunity to have a student graduate with a bachelors degree that has any information on collision repair.”
He was told by Professor Steve Tomory that the main reason was due to the program not having any student completers (no certificates or degrees) for nearly 15 years and minimal students were getting jobs with industry training such as ASE and I-CAR. Therefore, Tomory, who will be the faculty advisor, said it was not cost-effective to have a “hobby shop” program.
Slavich added that the decision was made due to labor market data and the cost of the program. He recommends students interested in pursuing auto body repair attend the Cerritos or Cypress community college programs, which are both I-CAR certified. “We have plenty of capacity in the area,” said Slavich.
He plans to market the bachelor degree program to students currently taking auto body at the two community colleges and will give them credit for their undergraduate work. “I’m hoping that we get students out of the auto body area; typically, students just get enough education to go to work so they don’t finish a degree or certificate,” he said.
According to Rio Hondo, graduates will be equipped for jobs with auto manufacturers, car dealers or aftermarket companies that modify vehicles.