Clackamas Community College expands auto program

Story by Rachelle Peiffer

The Automobile Service Technology program held a celebration on Feb. 28 focused on it being officially certified by the Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation, or ASEEF. The celebration included a car show showing off the students’ work, along with snacks and beverages.

The celebration was held in the Barlow Auto Body Shop on Clackamas Community College’s Oregon City campus. Teachers hoped the celebration would attract more partnerships such as the longstanding Subaru partnership that they currently hold.

Both Tim Cook and a representative from the ASE spoke at the event, along with a student. This coincides with the total remodel and expansion of all automotive programs, which is funded by both a Metallica grant and bonds. Both noted the automotive programs as needing more space.

“We’ve been doing the best we can with the space we’ve had for over a decade now,” said Jay Leuck, an auto service tech instructor.

Auto body/collision repair instructor Mark House expressed hope that the remodel will encourage more students to enroll in auto programs at CCC. Along with helping current college-enrolled automotive students, the expansion will also improve the facilities in which students from Oregon City High School come to work and learn. Storage, which is currently scattered throughout Barlow Hall, will be more contained, leaving the students and teachers with more room to work. This, along with numerous walls being knocked down, will allow more students to work at once.

“We’re gonna go from nine or 12 to 22 service lifts,” Leuck remarked as he walked through the relatively small classroom.

Even with all this optimism, change can still be nerve-racking.

“Yeah, [the teachers] are really excited, looking forward to it. I mean obviously it’s nervous excitement,” Leuck said. Since the official start of the expansion will be after graduation this spring, summer classes will need to be cancelled.

“We’re going to lose all our summer classes this coming summer, so that’s a disservice to a lot of the guys that’ve been here for years taking those classes,” House said. “We got some guys that [have] 14-15 years in a row of taking that class continuously. This is the first year they can’t.” According to House, current students are excited for all the new changes, although some of the students closer to finishing are a bit sad on missing out.

Some of the new classrooms will be turning into flex labs, where students can be taught and then use their knowledge. A lot of the new space is going to be utilized either as new classrooms or new shops. Much of Barlow Hall that is occupied by these rooms is actually quite small. According to Jessica Phelps, automotive parts technician, a lot of the actual new equipment or tools are not finalized; they are still waiting on acquiring permits. If the permits come in at or around graduation, the expansion is predicted to be finished during fall term.