Above: Sunnyside High School automotive instructor Nick Paulakis rests his hand on an upside down GM diesel engine block as he asks a question during a training session July 8, 2009, at Shoreline Community College.
Below: Chuck Nichols, from Marysville-Pilchuck High School, checks an error code in a Chevrolet truck as part of the week-long training program.
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Two dozen automotive instructors from high schools across Washington are converging on Shoreline Community College for 40 hours of training on the latest technology on the road.
And thanks to General Motors dealers across the state, it’s free.
“I know that the K-12 school systems are being affected by the economy like everyone else,” said Don Schultz, Director of SCC’s Automotive Technology Center. “Many of the school districts where these instructors are teaching the next generation of automotive technicians aren’t able to support this kind of training.
“Once I explained that to the GM dealers, they were happy to support the program. Not one of them said, ‘No.’”
What dealers said “yes” to funding are two, one-week training sessions with Patrick Koenen, the SCC instructor for the GM Service Technical College that is part of the college program. Koenen is literally a “World Class Technician,” the highest ranking possible by GM.
“The total cost of the two weeks is more than $4,000,” Schultz said. “This kind of support, at a time when the dealers are hurting, too, is phenomenal.”
Several of the instructors said that without the financial support, they would’ve gone without, ultimately hurting the high school students back home.
“This allows us to learn and then pass on to our students,” said Nick Paulakis, who has been the automotive instructor at Sunnyside High School for 26 years. “The first day, we were learning about the latest GM hybrids and last two days about latest advancements in diesels,” Paulakis said, adding that much of the training involves using computerized diagnostic tools. “When I was in tech school back in the ‘70s, they were saying things like, ‘Someday, there’ll be a computer in your car.’”
Paulakis said he usually goes to similar training at Portland Community College. “How can you pass up free?” he said.
Fred Donaldson, an automotive instructor in the Auburn School District, said that without the GM dealers’ support, he wouldn’t have been able to attend. “The district just doesn’t have the money for this kind of thing,” Donaldson said.
Chuck Nichols, the automotive instructor at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in the Marysville School District, echoed the sentiment: “Without the dealers’ help, I wouldn’t be here.”
Mike Frank, Kelso High School
Nick Paulakis, Sunnyside High School
Dick Wynder, NC Tech Skills Center
James McLain, Kentwood High School
Fred Donaldson, Auburn High School
Larry Turner, Puyallup High School
Karl Hoffman, Green River CC
Dan Sorensen, Green River CC
Fred Treadwell, Bellevue HS
Peter McCue, Port Angeles High School
Jerry Wade, Burlington-Edison HS
David Robbins, Meadowdale HS
Kary Schneiderm, City Campus
George Sichting, Kentridge High School
John Arnold, YV Tech
Dave Boos, New Mkt. Skills Center
Chuck Nichols, Marysville Pilchuck
Mark Yosting, Moses Lake High School
John Heflin, Moses Lake High School
Kirk VanGelder, Clark County Skills Ctr
Hillary Mayhan, Bellevue HS
John McDonald, Sumner High School
Don Reynoldson, Ingraham High School
Ralph Shultz, Yelm High School
Donating GM Dealers
Chuck Olson Chevrolet
Doug’s Northwest Cadillac, Hummer
Brotherton Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, GMC
Roy Robinson Chevrolet
Brooks Biddle Chevrolet
Lee Johnson Chevrolet
Kirkland Pontiac, Buick, GMC
Cadillac of Bellevue
Valley Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, GMC
Valley Buick, Pontiac, GMC
Ruddell Auto Mall
SCC /Jim Hills