Arapahoe Community College’s Automotive Program is Named Best in the Nation for 2011

LITTLETON, Colo.  – Arapahoe Community College’s (ACC) Automotive Technology program was recognized today with the 2011 Tomorrow’s Technician School of the Year by WIX Filters, Chicago Pneumatic and Waterloo Industries.

According to contest judges, ACC’s professional setting, emphasis on education and opportunities for students, proved to be the winning formula in selecting its automotive program as tops in the nation.

This is the fourth-consecutive year for the nationally recognized award in which an automotive program is crowned for its educational excellence. ACC now joins the ranks of past School of the Year winners Waubonsee Community College (WCC) in Sugar Grove, IL, Ohio Technical College (OTC) in Cleveland, OH, and Caddo Career & Technology Center in Shreveport, LA.

“We are very pleased to acknowledge the instructors, staff and administrators of Arapahoe Community College on their achievement of providing top-notch automotive-related education to its students,” said Jeff Stankard, publisher of Tomorrow’s Technician.

Arapahoe Community College, which represented Region 1 in School of the Year contest, edged out the finalists from the three other regions in the country:

  • Region 2: Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Elizabethtown, KY;
  • Region 3: South Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA; and
  • Region 4: Sinclair Community College, Dayton, OH.

To recognize their commitment to the industry, WIX Filters presented ACC’s auto program with a $5,000 contribution, as well as wearable items, backpacks and other gifts for each of the automotive program’s nearly 90 students. Chicago Pneumatic, a manufacturer and distributor of aftermarket tools, accessories and compressors, provided the winning school with more than $8,000 worth of tools including various impact wrenches, orbital sanders, pistol screwdrivers, ratchet sets and more. Waterloo Industries donated a Traxx brand rolling tool cabinet/chest.

“WIX places a heavy emphasis on technician education and we are proud to support this special program which recognizes the best schools in the country,” said Mike Harvey, brand manager for WIX Filters. “The better education students receive today, the more valuable they will be as a resource to their customers down the road. It’s very encouraging to see so many schools, teachers and students share in this belief.”

Stankard said each year the quality of the School of the Year entries continues to rise. “This year’s contest was the most competitive in terms of school profiles,” Stankard said. “We see that the level of automotive education programs in this country continues to improve every year. And, it is our goal that we, along with the contest’s generous sponsors, highlight the skills and knowledge that the next generation of automotive service technicians are taking with them into the field.”

While ACC had made it into the Top 20 in years past, newly added educational programs helped boost the school in its scoring totals and elevate it to the title of School of the Year.

“Our program has been involved in this competition for the past four years and we have continually attempted to improve our program each and every year,” said Jerry Viola, director of the automotive technology program.

“ACC staff, in working with its industry advisory committee to develop tomorrow’s technicians today reorganized the automotive program admission requirements and curriculum four years ago to reflect the needs of the local automotive industry. We collectively felt that the program needed be geared toward future professional technicians. To do that, the program had to incorporate general education with formal automotive training classes and active, hands-on labs with state-of-the-industry automobiles and tools.”

ACC on the Educational Radar

Tomorrow’s Technician wasn’t the only organization to recognize ACC’s quality automotive program. The school also received national recognition for its automotive apprenticeship program from the White House. In April 2010, educator Dr. Jill Biden, who as Second Lady works to highlight the importance of community colleges, visited ACC as part of her tour highlighting best practices in community college education programs. During her visit, she complimented the college’s automotive program for its innovative approach, commitment to general education, and putting students to work in a high-demand, high-paying career within two years of graduation.

“We are very proud of this distinction, but are even more proud of winning the 2011 School of the Year award,” said Janna Oakes, Dean of Liberal Arts and Professional programs. “Jerry Viola’s vision, his commitment to being the best, and his deep personal commitment to partnerships and relationships are the reasons that ACC’s automotive program is noted as the finest among college automotive programs.”

Cutting Edge Education

ACC is one of a select number of Department of Energy-Hybrid Training programs offered across the country. The hybrid-training program is made possible by a federal grant to Colorado State University Ventures and ACC, along with other participants. According to Viola, technicians are trained in servicing and conversion of vehicles into plug-in electric technology. Courses are taught in the evenings to allow technicians to train after work hours.

“The rapid pace at which technology is changing presents many challenges for technicians,” Viola said. “Critical thinking skills, along with the ability to read, comprehend and perform numerous mathematical calculations are the reasons we run a degree-seeking program.”

The school offers manufacturer-specific automotive programs as well, including:

  • Honda PACT;
  • GM ASEP;
  • Nissan; and
  • Chrysler CAP

“Arapahoe Community College continually strives to meet community and industry needs in meaningful and innovative ways,” said ACC President Dr. Diana Doyle. “Our Automotive Technology program is a proud example of excellence in service.”

About the School of the Year Contest

Babcox Media’s Tomorrow’s Technician magazine and sponsors WIX Filters, Chicago Pneumatic and Waterloo Industries developed the School of the Year contest to recognize the top automotive technical colleges and schools dedicated to innovative training programs that prepare students for real-world careers.

Entries for this year’s contest were received from 301 students, instructors and other industry representatives nominating nearly 100 high schools, technical schools and colleges across the U.S. In February, the field of entries was consolidated to a Top 20 list and in April, four schools were named regional finalists based on judges’ scores. Scoring was based on binders issued by the schools that highlighted school awards, instructor certifications, curriculum, graduation information, extra-curricular events and other contest prerequisites.

For more information on the contest, prizes awarded to ACC and the three finalist schools, as well as features on previous School of the Year winners, visit

About Tomorrow’s Technician

Tomorrow’s Technician is an automotive trade magazine that is designed exclusively for a core target audience of 17- to-25-year-old automotive students and their instructors.  Tomorrow’s Technician expands the experience of the readers by delivering technical information to students about servicing today’s vehicles; assisting educators with a “real world” supplement to classroom assignments; and reinforcing the students’ decisions to seek a career in the automotive industry.

Delivered to key administrators at NATEF-certified, AYES and other automotive training programs eight times a year, Tomorrow’s Technician reaches more than 40,000 secondary and post-secondary automotive students and educators every issue. For more information, visit


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