Rusty Eck Ford, Ford Motor Company donate vehicle to Butler’s Auto Tech Program
Students in the Automotive Technology program at Butler Community College received a strong re-affirmation of their career choice Thursday morning when a group of Rusty Eck Ford and Ford Motor Company employees arrived in the auto shop during class.
The entourage didn’t arrive empty handed either. They delivered a used Ford Focus branded with Rusty Eck Ford and Butler Grizzlies logos. After several comments, the keys were handed over to Mark Jaye, Butler’s auto technology instructor.
Jaye pointed out this is the second vehicle donated within the last five years to Butler’s Auto Technology program by Rusty Eck Ford and the Ford Motor Company. This is one result of a valuable partnership that started six years ago. The cars are donated as educational lab tools to aid in the training of students in Butler’s program. Other benefits include internships for students in the Rusty Eck Ford company.
Marcus Hicks, Regional Technical Talent Placement Specialist for Rusty Eck Ford and a Butler alum, complemented the work of Brandon Clark, Rusty Eck Ford Fixed Operations Director, and Mark Jaye, for developing the partnership and building a stronger pathway from classroom to industry for the students.
“Understand something,” Hicks said as he addressed the class of students. “You’re no longer a mechanic or a grease monkey,” he said amid chuckles. “You’re a technician because everything you do deals with diagnosis.
“You have training that’s invaluable and this is a partnership, I think, will be going on for years to come.”
Brad Wilson, Ford Motor Company Parts & Service Operations Manager, spoke on behalf of Ford Motor Company emphasizing to the students their need to enter to industry. He encouraged them to keep working hard.
“Right now, over the next five years, 20% of our technicians will be eligible for retirement. And, we’re not alone in that,” he said. “Most of the industry is in that same situation so there’s a great need for automotive technicians and for great sales people in our industry. It’s a robust industry and there’s a great opportunity for all of us to grow in that. You have a great future ahead of you and a great opportunity in front of you.”
Mark Jaye and Mel Whiteside, Dean of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) division, both offered their appreciation for industry support of the partnership.
“These types of donations are critical to our programs for ensuring we have the latest technology for our students to work on,” Whiteside said. “They deserve that and it makes them more valuable and employable when they leave here.”
Before passing the keys over to Jaye, Kyle Eck, CEO of the Eck Auto Group and Butler alum, brought the value of the work service technicians do back to the economy.
“One thing I will say about technicians, mechanics and service professionals, he said. “They are the lifeblood to the industry and actually, the life blood to the economy because they keep everyone running; they keep them going.”
Butler’s Automotive Technology program is taught in El Dorado and provides a pathway to either a one-year certificate or a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree.