Triton Vehicle Technology Program Offers Students $2000 Stipend, $1200 of Free Tools

One nearby community college program offers a great deal to students who are accepted. Not only do they get a $2,000 stipend, but $1,200 worth of top-of-the-line tools.

River Grove's Triton College's cutting edge two-year Automotive Technology Degree Program provides its qualified registered students with a $2,000 stipend in three payments with the final $1,000 at graduation. The new tool set, which includes 36 top of the line tools such as a $200 portable bench press, a 10- piece screwdriver set, wrench sets, a MATCO basic multimeter and much more, are given to the students at the beginning of the program to take with them at graduation.

The stipend comes from a $1 million Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) that provides job training to in-district residents. The grant allows area residents to enroll at Triton and if accepted can receive a tuition-free, industry-recognized certificate.

"This is a fun program, a great environment with state- of- the art equipment," Triton College Commercial Vehicle Technology's teacher Gary J. Machonga said, showing visitors around the school's massive garages holding trucks, cars, vans and the latest technology equipment. "There is definitely a shortage of automotive technology specialists across the U.S. and the demand for trained auto technicians is high. Graduates of this program receive a two-year degree and can find a position in automotive technology right away anywhere or go on to get a four-year degree in automotive technology at schools like Southern Illinois University where, I believe, they are currently developing an automotive technology master's degree."

Pointing at the three massive, baby blue, green and red commercial vehicles in one garage Machonga said, "Navistar donated these three trucks, they actually offered us 30, but we didn't have room. They donated about $3 million worth of equipment to the school, which helps the students and the teachers."

The garages are massive with vehicles of all models and makes, including a wide area where study is done on electric vehicles (EV) and their parts, such as testing wheels and brakes. The Triton program is only one of two such programs in the greater Chicago area, Machonga said, and is certified by the respected National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF). NATEF is a division of ASE (Automotive Service Excellence).

In addition to the Navistar donation, other vehicle manufacturers have contributed vehicles and equipment to the program including General Motors and Honda.

Machonga said the Automotive Technology Degree Program curriculum provides theoretical and practical knowledge needed to work in the field of automotive technology. Graduates earn an associate degree in applied science in automotive technology. Triton also offers certificate programs in automotive technology, automotive brake and suspension, engine repair, engine performance and transmission.

While showing visitors the new engine research technology attached to a large video screen in the garage a man walking by with his family asked about his electric commercial truck's brakes noting it had been in the shop for longer than a week. "They're still trying to find the main cause of the problem between the brakes and the wheels, the electric commercial vehicles still need a lot of work, especially if they want us to go green," this man, holding the hand of his three-year-old son, told Machonga.

Machonga then asked him more about his truck and noted Triton's expansion into research in the EV area. "There is a major shortage of vehicle technology specialists, especially in the commercial area," Machonga, a Triton grad himself, said. "The salaries are good and the education one gets here at Triton is next to none."

Triton graduates can work at automotive dealerships, repair facilities and more as an automotive technician or specialist.

For more information go to Automotive Technology | Triton College. "It's a win win for everyone," Machonga said.

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