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COC's first Auto Tech grad sails into new career

Posted: June 8, 2009 5:31 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2009 10:27 p.m.

COC student Chuck Hanifan, 21, is the proud recipient of the first Automotive Technology associate in science degree awarded by the college. For the past year Hanifan has worked part time at Teague Custom Marine, Inc. as a mechanic's assistant where he has continued to develop his skills - while launching his career.

In the roughly three years since College of the Canyons introduced its Automotive Technology curriculum, the program has grown in both breadth and enrollment, gained industry acknowledgment and support - and most recently produced its first graduate.

Last week, College of the Canyons student Chuck Hanifan, 21, walked the aisle clad in cap and gown to receive the first Automotive Technology associate in science degree awarded by the college.

"It's a great program and it was a really good experience," said Hanifan. "I came to the first class knowing almost nothing about cars and engines and am leaving with a pretty good knowledge about how all the parts work, how to troubleshoot if something goes wrong and how to diagnose and fix a potential problem."

But Hanifan's automotive education won't end with Friday's commencement ceremony. Instead, the recent graduate will continue to develop his skills and receive hands-on-training - all while launching his career - at Teague Custom Marine Inc. in Valencia, Calif.

Teague Custom Marine specializes in engineering and manufacturing high performance boat engines, rigging parts and custom fabrications while providing top-notch design consultation and industry expertise to both high performance boaters and prominent boat builders nationwide.

In addition to a large showroom, Teague Custom Marine features complete engine building and machining facilities, custom rigging bays, fabrication departments, a stern drive shop, machine shop, parts warehouse and shipping department.

For the past year Hanifan has worked part time at Teague Custom Marine as a mechanic's assistant while studying to complete his automotive degree at College of the Canyons.

Working closely with Teague Custom Marine's team of engine builders, Hanifan has gained valuable shop experience handling a majority of the pre-assembly duties required before an engine can be built, repaired or enhanced - and even doing some actual engine block work at times.

"Chuck is a great worker and has a real strong work ethic, plus it's always nice to be able to hire someone with the training needed to work in this industry," said Cherilyn Teague, administrator at Teague Custom Marine. "The longer Chuck is here the more skills he will gain and the more his duties will expand, so it's definitely a position where there is room for growth."

"We look to College of the Canyons as a valuable resource," added Teague. "We had an excellent experience hiring some of our employees that came out of the college's welding program and we were very excited to hear about the arrival of the college's Automotive Technology program."

The Automotive Technology program is a comprehensive two-year program designed to prepare students with the industry defined entry-level skills needed for an automotive technician position in a variety of settings including dealerships, independent automotive repair facilities or city/county agencies.

Students may opt to complete an associate in science degree or a certificate of achievement in Automotive Technology. The program provides in-depth training with extensive hands-on experiences.

In the classroom, students learn the theoretical aspects of automotive diagnosis, repair and service. In the automotive laboratory setting, students practice applying the theory learned in the classroom to real hardware.

Upon completion of the course work required for the certificate or major, students achieve competencies in the areas of brakes, suspension, electrical components and wiring, transmissions, engine diagnosis and drivability.

"I definitely learned a lot, and I'm still learning a lot here at Teague Custom Marine," Hanifan said. "In this industry you never stop learning."


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