Hot rod college? What? File this under “interesting college options!” Since relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ve received quite an education about motorsports engineering, fabrication, and engines- it’s a BIG, BIG, deal to a LOT of people!
So, I thought I’d devote this post to all things automotive. I’ve got some really great resources for you from high school through college, mainly because I have 4 teenage sons obsessed with all things automotive. Each of my sons has their own special interest (luxury cars, muscle cars, motorcycles, ATVs) so if this is where your teen’s interest lies, start your engines!
Crankin Engines (High School Credit) is a homeschool curriculum for your teen and easily adaptable to a co-op class. This is on my “to buy” list for 2017-2018 school year, so I hope to share specific feedback later. This will be devoured by my 13-year-old son. It’s a 4-stroke internal combustion engine applied science course, taught through DVD and hands-on lab. The students much purchase an engine (the teacher walks you through a salvage yard and shows you how to choose one for about ten bucks). The description promises that the parent/teacher doesn’t have to have prior knowledge.
Community College (High School Credit) you may not realize that community colleges have an entire division of courses available to anyone 16 and older for anyone to take! They use various names, but you’ll see it called “Adult Education” or “Professional Development” and even “Continuing Education.” These courses are taught by professionals through a non-credit option, usually evenings or weekends for a flat fee (not tuition). Check more than one community college, if you may find a robust automotive offering!
Car Painting Course (High School Credit) is a DVD curriculum for anyone interested in learning how to paint a car and do simple body work in your home garage.
Summer Camp / Extracurricular
Motorsports Engineering Camp- I have to take a moment to promote a summer program that my oldest son attended in 2012 at Univerisity of North Carolina that was absolutely fantastic. We lived in Illinois at the time, so this was his first “sleep away” experience, but the students stayed on campus and were supervised by the
Engineering faculty during a week of motorsports engineering lab activities at their 4.5 million dollar facility! The did a lot of amazing things. Sadly, this specific camp isn’t currently offered this year, but I encourage you to contact the many colleges I’ve listed below if this sounds like something your teen would enjoy.
Ok, I’m not fooling anyone- this is a complete and total indulgence, but if your teen is a car enthusiast, this fuels their fire and helps them appreciate the complexity and level of knowledge they’ll have to possess in the profession. Driving experiences are available all over the country at select locations. The NASCAR Driving Experience allows you to ride with or drive an actual NASCAR. It’s expensive and requires
a full day of “school” before you’re eligible. If you ride along, you must be 16, and to drive you must have a valid driver’s license. The fun doesn’t stop there. If NASCAR isn’t your style, there are Exotic Driving Experiences, which are nearly identical, except instead of a NASCAR, you’ll ride in or drive an exotic sports car. (I feel obligated to share that my son paid for this himself. This kind of indulgence isn’t in this momma’s budget!)
Community College (High School & College Credit) There is a strong possibility that your community college offers dual enrollment courses for college credit. In many states, dual enrollment in career and technical occupations (automotive, motorsports, fabrication) waive testing requirements that are otherwise used for liberal arts, math, English, science, etc. courses.
As an example, my local community college offers 3 dual enrollment automotive paths, all lead into a degree program if the student desires.
College, Career, and Techincal Programs
The following programs are for high school graduates, though some may offer dual enrollment and summer programs. This short list is my personal list, and I’m sure lacks hundreds of excellent programs, so it is by no means complete. If you have a program you’d like to recommend for this list, let me know!
University of North Carolina Charlotte Motorsports Engineering capital of the country. A number of programs including Bachelor of Engineering with a concentration in Motorsports, Master of Science, MBA in Motorsports, and even a Ph.D. in Motorsports research. This is the campus that hosted the camp my son attended.
(Engineering majors study math above Calculus)
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis The first Bachelor’s program in the country dedicated to motorsports engineering, and they’ve also added a Master of Science program and a certificate option. (Engineering majors study math above Calculus)
Lakeland College Street Rod Apprenticeship Program in Canada has a fantastic program called “try-a-trade” that allows the students to “try out” the program for 12 weeks before deciding to enroll in the 8-month Street Rod Apprenticeship. Apprenticeship Video
Utah Valley University With a specialization in Hot Rod Technology, Utah Valley offers a one-year certificate, diploma, Associate in Applied Science Degree, and a Bachelor of Science in Technology Management Degree. NOTE: Utah Valley allows students to use CLEP and DSST exams to complete their general education requirements! Up to 25% of a degree may consist of CLEP or DSST credit.
Ohio Technical College offers 10 different training programs, ranging from 1-2 years in length. Depending on the specialization, students will earn either a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. The Associate degree requires some general education, but the certificates and diploma programs consist of 100% hands-on labs.
- Auto-Diesel Technology
- Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology
- Manufacturer Training
- Classic Car Restoration Technology
- Complete Automotive Technology
- Diesel Equipment Technology
- Motorcycle and Powersports Technology
- High Performance and Racing Technology
- Rod and Custom Technology
- Welding and Fabrication Technology
NASCAR Technical Institute (Universal Technical Institute) is a NASCAR-endorsed franchise training program operating in 8 states (North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Massachusetts). Beyond NASCAR engines, you can also study automotive, motorcycle, diesel, collision, and marine technology. They have a pretty active Facebook page your teen can follow.
The Hot Rod Institute in South Dakota is another 100% hands-on program. The student’s training can lead to a certificate or diploma in specialties like Hot Rod Motorcycle, Hot Rod Upholstery, and Hot Rod Performance. The only “ding” that bothers me a bit about this school, is that they don’t participate in Federal Financial Aid.
McPherson College offers a BA in Automotive Restoration. (Thanks Kathy B. in New Jersey!)
WyoTech has 3 campus locations (Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Florida) that specialize in core automotive technology, collision, diesel, marine, and motorcycle technology. WyoTech used to be owned by Corinthian Colleges, which landed them in serious financial student loan trouble- they used to have 7 campuses, and now only have 3 as of 2015. This is a program to consider with caution. It’s too soon to know if they will turn around or close down. I mention this because if you start doing an internet search for programs, they’ll be in your top search results. More information to consider before considering WyoTech.
Let me leave you with one closing thought: Before enrolling in any of these super exciting programs, be sure to allow your teen the opportunity to meet people working in these careers. Even informal interviews, email correspondence, or social media connections can provide valuable insight into matching the right training to the right career path.
It is not always possible to be the best, but it is always possible to improve your own performance. -Jackie Stewart “Flying Scot” Formula One Racing Driver