FLINT — Hands-on experience guided by experts in the field is what students in Baker College’s transportation technology programs can expect, according to Phil Whitmer, Baker College of Flint dean of transportation technology.
“Extensive lab time, required internships and events like our recent Car & Motorcycle Show provide a variety of opportunities for students to learn,” Whitmer said. “Combined, they accelerate the learning process and help make students job-ready at graduation.”
The college offers certificates and associate degrees in a variety of disciplines, including autobody technician, automotive services technology and welding. Its automotive restoration technology program is among a handful of such programs in the state.
Baker College of Flint is one of three Michigan colleges certified for both “collision repair/refinish” and “automotive” by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
“NATEF accreditation helps students and employers identify quality programs,” Whitmer said.
NATEF is an independent non-profit organization. It accredits secondary and post-secondary technology programs that meet industry developed standards reflecting the skills students must master to be successful in the industry.
NATEF accreditation at the secondary level means that college credits earned at the dozens of accredited high school trade programs throughout Michigan can be applied to a degree program at the NATEF-accredited Flint campus.
Melissa Naimy, of Holly, has enhanced her welding techniques through hands-on experience. She then parlayed that experience and landed several job offers. She will complete an associate degree in welding in June.
“I was able to use lab time and my internship to meet employers’ experience requirements,” she said. “Right now I’m focused on my studies, but will make a job decision soon.”
Although Michigan is strong in the automotive industry, there are other industries — such as agriculture, manufacturing and refining — in need of transportation technology graduates. Whitmer even gets calls from museums looking for potential employees.
Another student in the welding program, Tony Lantzer, of Montrose, will begin building pontoon boats at Crest Marine LLC in Owosso after graduation in June.
“The Baker College program is uniquely structured to create a challenging environment that is not stressful,” Lantzer said. “Students push themselves but are supported by encouraging instructors.”
The Baker College welding program is designed to meet or exceed the requirements established by the American Welding Society.