RLC Automotive Tech program Receives NATEF Accreditation
One group of Rend Lake College students are getting back in the classroom this spring knowing they are receiving the highest quality education. RLC’s Automotive Technology program recently received reaccreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
The accreditation is the highest level of program accreditation recognized by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a nonprofit organization that tests and certifies automotive professionals. RLC has continuously been accredited by NATEF since 1996.
With the accreditation comes program credibility, prestige, and program improvements to ensure training standards are not only met, but kept. In this way, NATEF accreditation benefits everyone, from schools, students, and future employers to the automotive service industry and everyone driving on our nation’s roads.
“NATEF accreditation ensures we are following a curriculum that correlates with industry standards,” explained Nigel Thompson, Automotive Technology Professor. “When there are new technologies, NATEF is sure to help us make those technologies new learning objectives to work into our curriculum. It keeps our students and our graduates current.”
While on campus for the site evaluation last November, representatives from NATEF examined the structure, resources, and quality of training to compare to industry standards. When asked what the NATEF representatives looked over, Shannon Perkins, Automotive Technology Professor, said “everything related to the automotive program.”
“They review our tools, equipment, and curriculum, plus they interview current and past students who are working in the industry and in the community to be sure our program is teaching them the knowledge and skills to be successful in the automotive industry,” added Thompson.
Patricia Serratore, President of ASE, informed RLC of the accreditation at the end of the Fall 2017 semester. In her congratulations letter to the college, she wrote, “We have received the on-site evaluation results for your automobile technician training program. The results indicate that your program continues to meet the requirements for Master Automobile Service Technology accreditation.”
The letter continues, “We commend you and your staff for maintaining your program’s standards, and continuing to meet the industry’s requirements. The explosion in automotive technology makes your high quality automotive training program more valuable than ever.”
Thompson added the success of RLC’s Automotive Technology program can partially be attributed to the hard work and volunteerism of the advisory council. This guiding body meets twice a year and includes members of the community who bring knowledge and skills to help RLC make decisions to benefit students.
“Our Automotive Advisory Council is very strong, and they have a lot of input in our program and reaccreditation,” said Thompson. “They are always there to assist with our program’s needs and goals. They’re members of the local community who want to help our students, from curriculum and equipment needs to donations to the program itself.”
The current advisory council includes President Al Martin of Martin’s Automotive in Mt. Vernon and Vice President Mike Behrmann, Department of Automotive Technology Chairman at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, among others.
Lori Ragland, Vice President of Instruction, added the reaccreditation can also be attributed to the hard work of RLC’s two Automotive Technology Professors.
“Professors Thompson and Perkins are diligent with the training they provide and they have a passion to see their students succeed,” said Ragland. “The effort that these gentlemen put forth each semester is evident; NATEF accreditation of RLC’s automotive program for over 20 years is a testament to the quality of the program in keeping current with industry standards. This is another example of the dedication and passion of the Rend Lake College team to provide a top notch education for our students.”
RLC’s Automotive Technology program features curriculum based on ASE standards to give graduates a broad base of knowledge about how vehicles’ complex components work and interact, as well as the ability to work with electronic diagnostic equipment and computer-based technical reference materials.
Students at RLC can choose between a two-year, four-semester Associate in Applied Science Degree; a similar four-semester occupational certificate; or seven shorter certificates covering transitions, electrical components, brakes, suspension and steering, air conditioning, engine repair, and Ford maintenance. Students who compete either of the four semester programs also earn each of the seven shorter certificates.