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August 22, 2006 > Wyotech delivers motorcycle expertise

Wyotech delivers motorcycle expertise

From primitive "Fred Flintstone" devices to today's computer-controlled vehicles, design and technology have made a quantum leap. Along with innovation comes the corollary issue of repair and maintenance. After all, what good are wonderful conveyances if they last only a brief period of time? With the myriad of vehicles, manufacturers and design complexities, backyard mechanics with a simple set of tools have given way to a new breed. Mechanics now must also be technicians trained and equipped to cope with electronically controlled marvels of engineering acumen. From the early days of the dreaded "black box" to the latest vehicles sporting upwards of 70 computer processors, life in the garage demands far more skills.

As training in automotive skills has reached high levels of sophistication, schools have been hard pressed to keep pace. High school and college auto shop classes may still function in some districts or at specialized occupational centers, but the automotive industry keeps moving forward to comply with consumer demand and increasingly stringent, government-mandated performance standards. Specialized training and equipment is an ongoing need for those who choose to keep all the wheels turning on-road and off.

A Saturday, August 19 open house at Wyotech (formerly Sequoia Institute), a division of Corinthian Colleges, Inc. introduced their new Fremont Motorcycle Technology program in a spacious and well-equipped 30,000 square foot facility. Students of all ages interested in learning basic technical skills and the latest innovations now have access to 9 classrooms, 2 laboratories and 14,000 square feet of practical shop space, including two types of dynamometers (testing speed, horsepower and torque). Wyotech is creating relationships with many motorcycle manufacturers. Presently they offer hands-on experience with a wide range of Asian (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) and European (BMW, Ducati and Triumph) bikes as well as the American road warrior, Harley Davidson.

Corey Faria, Director of Admissions at Wyotech in Fremont, notes that when Wyotech purchased American Motorcycle Institute of Daytona Beach, Florida, they had the opportunity to bring a motorcycle curriculum to the West Coast as well. Word came to the Fremont facility that it had been selected as the site for this program, the only one of its kind in California. In March, they broke ground on a new building, close to their other facilities. He noted that before opening this program, state-of-the-art, formal motorcycle training was only available out-of-state. "Now students interested in becoming motorcycle technicians, can remain in this area for training."

The new program joins Fremont Wyotech's existing courses in automotive mechanics, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and plumbing. Other Wyotech locations offer coursework in auto collision/refinishing, aviation technology and marine technology. Training in these areas spans between seven and eighteen months of coursework followed by career placement assistance.

President of the Fremont Campus of Wyotech, Mark Millen, says that the Motorcycle Technology program "well may be a significant part of our growth." He adds that this program on the West Coast "will add to our long tradition and build on the strong rider community in Northern California." With a comprehensive program that includes 1000 hours in basic motorcycle maintenance and repair followed by an additional 500 hours specializing on the manufacturer(s) of their choice. Millen adds, "Most dealers are multi-line, so the more the student knows about different types of bikes, the more employable they are and the faster they can advance in their career."

Faria says that Wyotech programs are "very flexible" with classes to choose from during the morning (8 a.m. - noon), some afternoon sessions (1 p.m. - 5 p.m.) and evening classes (6 p.m. - 10 p.m.). "Someone working full-time could fit it into their schedule." A typical student schedule is about 20 hours per week. "We have students from all age demographics and all walks of life," says Faria. "Some are developing skills for their first career and others we call 'vintage students' who have been there, done that and are working on a second career. We are seeing a lot more females looking to get into the automotive and motorcycle industry." He also notes that Motorcycle Technology classes have a relatively small number of students - approximately 24 per class - resulting in personalized assistance and an excellent teacher to student ratio.

For those with little or no experience, Faria assures prospective students that Wyotech starts with the basics so "they can walk in here knowing nothing about mechanics and, depending on the curriculum, leave with enough knowledge to get started in a career." With the advances in automotive mechanics, he notes that today, "you have to have schooling" to compete for jobs in the industry.

Instructor Cliff Reinosa says that the new Motorcycle Technology program is geared to all types of students. Some can comprehend and learn effectively in the classroom while others need a hands-on environment to gain understanding. With the range of tools and teaching methods available, students are exposed to theory followed by practice for each part of the vehicle in each setting. "Our students are excited to learn and can't wait to get out into the shop," says Reinosa. "We teach the basics - suspension, tire, wheel, brakes -and move on from there to motors, electrical and more advanced topics." Faria adds, "We hope to appeal to all learning styles with tutoring available, if required. We have the tools and experienced instructors to help our students become successful."

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