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Program responds to advancing vehicle technology

July 25th, 2014 | By Jeff L. Libby Print this article   Email this article  

A tremendous number of what used to be fairly basic mechanical items are now being controlled by electrical and computer controlled systems. Cars, snowmachines, outboard engines, and ATV manufacturers continue to add more electronics and computer controlled systems to their products. These advances in technology are making it difficult for rural Alaskans to sometimes make even the simplest repairs.

In response to these changes, the Career and Technical College at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus is offering a variety of educational opportunities that is certain to benefit the future of rural Alaskans.

Today's standard cars and light trucks may contain up to 70 computers that are being used to run a variety of different systems that may range from basic heating system functions to controlling the emissions produced by today's efficient fuel injection systems.

The Transportation and Power Division at UAA is offering programs that range from general automotive repair to manufacturer specific training. Additionally, the department realizes the increased demand for well-trained individuals in the heavy equipment and diesel repair industry, so they offer a separate program that focuses in this area.

This unique division at the Career and Technical College of UAA offers associate degree programs, certificate programs and occupational endorsements for specific areas like electrical and electronic systems.

The general automotive technology program exposes students to several domestic and import vehicle manufacturers ranging from Honda and Volvo to Chrysler and Jeep. They recently received a brand new 2012 Dodge Ram Long Horn edition truck equipped with a backup camera system and DVD player. In addition, Chrysler Corporation donated a factory diagnostic scan tool that runs through a laptop computer for diagnosing the various on-board computers equipped in the vehicle.

There is also a GM sponsored program commonly referred to as GM ASEP (Automotive Service Educational Program) and a Ford sponsored program called the Ford ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training Program). These two manufacturer sponsored programs are manufacturer specific and offer the latest technology and training aids.

The curriculum for these courses constantly changes as new cars and computer controlled systems are being developed. The GM program received several donations last year including a new 2015 Chevrolet 1500 pick-up and a turbo charged Chevrolet Cruze.

The Transportation and Power Division also offers a Heavy Duty Transportation and Equipment program that emphasizes diesel powertrains. Students enrolled in this program have been employed in a variety of different locations working on trains, boats, heavy equipment, tractor trailers and power generation systems.

The automotive facility at UAA is referred to as the laboratory by the faculty and staff. In this shop they are equipped with a four-wheel alignment system that is synced to an IPad. The facility is also equipped with a four-wheel dynamometer that can simulate road conditions running vehicles up to 100 mph. This machine is used for emission system testing, diagnosing transmission shifting problems, studying engine performance and drive train operation. Students in the program are introduced to various fuel systems from gasoline and diesel to hybrid and electric powertrains.

The faculty introduce a variety of applied sciences from basic chemistry principles to applied physics. They also emphasize the importance of strong communication and written skills.

Classes for these programs are offered on a flexible schedule where students can attend morning, afternoon or night classes. Students are required to complete a practicum in all of these programs where they are introduced to real world experiences and receive college credits for working in the industry.

For more information on these programs contact Jeff Libby at


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