Automotive partnership fuels growth


Andrew Weedon

Automotive students Craig Yano and Mariah Henry work together to take apart a V6 Toyota engine in the Automotive Technology Building on Thursday. A number of engines were given to the automotive department by Toyota as part of the upcoming T-Ten program.

By Michael Santone, Editor-In-Chief

A warm breeze periodically drifted through the automotive department’s collision yard as Toyota executives, dealers and Contra Costa College faculty and staff came out Aug. 16 to celebrate the new TechnicianTraining & Education Network (T-TEN) partnership.

One of the first community college collaborations in Northern California, Toyota’s T-TEN program provides hands-on automotive diagnosis and repair education and training in classroom and dealership settings.

“In order for our program to be competitive and very high quality, we needed to partner with a manufacturer and Toyota has by far the best program,” automotive department Chairperson Bobby Sturgeon said. “What this means for us is that we will be able to train people to do in the classroom, what they will be doing when they start work. And it’s not available anywhere else.”

Before the opportunity came for CCC to partner with Toyota, the automotive department relied on donations from the community.

This included cars from the last decade that were totaled, had mechanical problems or company defects. Sturgeon, who is leading the partnership, said as in the 80s, with the technological shift from mechanically controlled vehicles to incorporating computers, another automotive technical advancement is taking place — self-driving cars and cars that can stop on their own.

“Toyota has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on resources for this program that a small community college like Contra Costa College could never afford,” Sturgeon said. “It means that we’re able to be competitive and follow the industry as the technology changes. This is an opportunity that would have not come otherwise, so it means everything to us.”

Although the launch of the first T-TEN Cohort at CCC won’t began until August 2020, the plan to slowly adapt the program’s curriculum and prepare for the certification process is underway.

Once finalized, the program will be evaluated by the California Community College Academic Affairs Division to ensure it meets the standard criteria.

After a light lunch provided by the culinary arts department, Toyota Technical Service Field Manager for the San Francisco Region Marc Giammona welcomed the lively crowd.

“This is a big day, an exciting day to see this project actually come to life,” Giammona said. “We’re excited to be partners with Contra Costa College and are inspired by your enthusiasm.

“We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership here and a number of great technicians entering the workforce locally.”

As part of the collaborative announcement, after his opening remarks, Giammona divided the room into two groups for a mini-tour of the automotive department and T-TEN PowerPoint presentation.

During the PowerPoint presentation, Library, Allied Health, Vocational Education and Athletics (LAVA) Division Dean Lucile Beatty said she and Sturgeon had just come back from two weeks of grueling instructional design training. Beatty is also an automotive services professor at CCC.

“We’re really committed to this partnership with Toyota T-TEN,” she said. “I personally never dreamed of anything like this. This partnership comes from the vision of our lead faculty member Bobby Sturgeon.”

Beatty said it was Sturgeon’s dream to connect with Toyota and its hands-on approach and internship-structured program.

In June 2016, while under the leadership of Beatty, the automotive department became certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). NATEF is a nonprofit organization that evaluates and accredits post-secondary, public and proprietary training program schools using standards established by the automotive industry.

“Our NATEF certification has opened doors to manufactures,” Beatty said. “I knew that none of the dealerships and manufacturers participate with schools unless they go through that process.”

Beatty said although this new partnership with Toyota will bring new students to the college, that isn’t on the forefront of her mind.

“First and foremost, it’s important for our community here to be provided that opportunity.”

The tour, which was led by Sturgeon, showed off different parts of the automotive department including the tool room, paint station and metal shop.

Four to five different 2018 Toyota models purchased and donated by Toyota Motor North America for the program were also on display. The afternoon’s festivities ended with a range of speakers, ranging from Toyota executives and T-TEN committee members to former college president Mojdeh Mehdizadeh and Governing Board President John Marquez.

CCC President Katrina VanderWoude said, “I am new to Contra Costa College, but I bring a strong commitment to workforce development and I am so excited for this partnership. The partnership we are celebrating today is unique, not only because it offers unparalleled opportunities for our students in areas of industry exposure, but because of its potential to function as a model for future innovative private and public partnerships.”