Students Find What Drives Them at the Hawaii High School Auto Academy

Student working on engine
Over 120 students have benefited from the Hawai‘i High School Auto Academy at Honolulu Community College since its inception in 2004.

The program sponsored by First Hawaiian Bank targets both public and private high school students interested in the automotive industry.  Students participate in an unpaid internship at a Cutter dealership in the mornings, then attend classes at Honolulu CC in the afternoon, five days a week for six weeks for a total of 120 classroom hours.  Upon successful completion of the program, the students receive four college credits towards an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Automotive Technology.

“This program not only exposes high school students to the automotive industry, but it gives them a unique opportunity to experience a college level learning environment,” explains Honolulu CC Chancellor, Erika Lacro. “We are teaching them transferable skills that will translate in any workplace.” 

Student and instructor working on car engine“Students enjoy their experience over the summer and some are really excited to start their post-secondary studies at the Community Colleges,” shares Automotive Instructor Warren Takata.  

Graduates of the program have gone on to pursue higher education obtaining their degree in automotive technology, or in other industry fields, such as, business, culinary, refrigeration and air conditioning, aeronautics, or welding to name a few.  Many of the completers of the program are now employed with a Cutter Dealership.

The innovative summer program began as a collaborative partnership between Honolulu Community College, First Hawaiian Bank, Waipahu High School and the Cutter Automotive Group in response to a shortage of trained workers in the automotive technology industry.  Participating Cutter dealerships are:  Dodge Ala Moana, Mazda Ala Moana, Chevy Ala Moana, Ford ‘Aiea, Dodge Pearl City, GMC Waipahu, Mazda Waipahu.

Plaque thanking First Hawaiian Bank for donating to the Hawaii High School Auto Academy
“We are grateful for the generous monetary contribution from First Hawaiian Bank to sustain the program for over a decade, and we are thankful to our partners at the Cutter Automotive Group for giving these students a valuable workforce experience.” says Takata.

Since the program’s inception, the bank has contributed over $125,000, which covers the cost of tuition, tools and supplies.  Honolulu Community College’s Automotive Technology program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and has maintained that status since 1993.

*Photos are courtesy of Hawaii High School Auto Academy.
The college is currently looking for high school Juniors and Seniors to participate in the 2016 summer program.  Interested individuals must have a driver’s license by the June start date of the program. Email to apply by March 31, 2016.  

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