Oakton helps create automotive technology pathway for young adults

Evanston resident Kobi Evans, 19, was all smiles after graduating from the Automotive Service and Repair Career Pathways Program, a partnership between Oakton Community College, Youth Job Center in Evanston and Evanston Township High School, on July 14.

“This program taught me perseverance and how to stay focused on the task at hand,” said Evans, who plans on attending Oakton this fall. “I learned valuable skills on how to fix cars. And that was something I didn't know how to do before.”

Established in 2014, the program is geared for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Participants gain 200 hours of work experience in an automotive service and repair setting over 11-weeks. Oakton's Workforce Solutions team developed a customized automotive service and repair curriculum specifically for this program, which is taught at EEvanston Township High School auto labs. The elements were customized based upon employer feedback regarding desired competencies. It includes key content that leads to the first step toward National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification, ensuring participants are knowledgeable in critical areas.

Evans was one of five students who graduated from this year's program. Other graduates include Evanston residents Steven Reyes and Jordan Dorsey and Solomon Cannon and Willie Doles of Chicago.

Thomas Sprengelmeyer, who teaches auto mechanics and engineer design at Evanston Township High School , served as the instructor of the program.

“I love having a small class size as we can dive deeper into things on a more personal level. The aim is for the student to get used to working in an auto shop setting by providing an overview of cars. Topics include oil changes, tire rotation, how an engine works, suspensions, safety and brakes. With COVID-19, we didn't get as much shop time as we wanted, but students were still able to learn key concepts in the classroom,” he said.

Oakton's Workforce Solutions partnership with YJC and Evanston Township High School is one example of the full range of cost-effective, high-quality training solutions that can be delivered at a variety of locations. Oakton's experienced team of consultants, trainers and program managers develops customized training programs that enhance employee skills and knowledge to drive business results.

“This automotive training is a true reflection of the quality of our customized programs,” says Eilish McDonagh-Hermer, Oakton senior manager, Workforce Solutions. “Attending the automotive graduation is always one of the highlights of my job. This program provides students with a career path and is an amazing collaboration. We are excited to continue these types of relationships with business partners in Oakton's community.”

At the graduation ceremony, Rose Chavira, career pathways assistant manager for YJC, told the graduates: “It was amazing to see all of you grow over the last few weeks. This will open career opportunities for you. Beautiful things are coming your way.”

And Cannon agrees. “I've always wanted to work with my hands. Receiving my certificate meant a great deal to me because it provided me with skills I can use for the rest of my life. The program was so focused on hands-on learning and will definitely help me find a job in the automotive field,” he said.

For information about the program, which will be offered again next spring, contact Stacy Lomax, adult education transitions coordinator, at (847) 376-7758.

For information about partnerships with Oakton's Workforce Solutions, call (847) 635-1447 or email

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