College unveils new and improved Automotive Technology program

The Anoka Technical College Automotive Technology program recently underwent some major changes, including new equipment and new partnerships.

The Automotive Technology program, which is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), is looking forward in excitement to celebrate new, innovative equipment and partnerships unique to Anoka Tech. Standout equipment acquisitions include a virtual vehicle diagnostic lab, and an exhaust pipe bender, unique to Anoka Tech, which will help students to create custom exhaust systems. The exhaust pipe bender will supplement the recent addition of a Welding for Automotive at the college. 

The Virtual Vehicle Diagnostic Lab and the newly acquired CounsuLab Engine Training Bench, containing a fully operational Hyundai Accent 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine (approximately $100,000.00 to equip), allows unique training opportunities for students. Students familiarize themselves with the operation of various computerized and non-computerized control systems such as Windshield Wipers, Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Interior and Exterior Lighting, Remote Keyless Entry, Air Bag, OBD-II Electronic Sequential Fuel, Injection (SFI) Distributor less Electronic Ignition, Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), Enhanced Evaporative Emission, Computer Area Network (CAN) Bus Communication Systems, Starting, and Charging Systems.

"One of the main focuses of our program is teaching critical thinking and the diagnostic process.  It doesn't take a great deal of skill to replace many of the parts on a vehicle. But the people that can accurately and quickly identify what part needs to be replaced and understand why it needs to be replaced are in short supply,” said Dave Larson, Automotive Technician instructor, “The technicians that have this skill can write their own ticket―they can get a job anywhere. Our program is dedicated to producing those technicians."
The students do research on the various systems to gain knowledge and understanding of how and what the system does and how it is supposed to work. Then they install various types of failure conditions that a customer would experience on their vehicle.  Students diagnose that problem and identify the specific repair that would be required to correct the problem. The trainers provide instructors with a controlled environment to create real-world failures and allow the students to focus on the diagnostic process along with the tests, measurements, and the skills required to accurately diagnose problems. 

The trainers also afford students the opportunity to address more failures than on actual vehicles which are subject to a limited number of problems.

The fleet of vehicles available to students include 30 American, Asian, and European vehicles to practice repair processes and hands-on skills. “When we are in the brake segment of the program, they are doing complete disc and drum brake jobs, as well as hydraulic repairs. When we are in the steering and suspension system segment, they are disassembling and reassembling steering and suspension systems,” said Larson. “These vehicles are learning tools that have a limited life cycle for us. Because we know the life cycle of each vehicle is limited, we can allow students the luxury of making those learning mistakes without affecting the curriculum.” 

Partnerships with local schools along with businesses help the Anoka Tech program to remain connected to the community. The partnerships also provide a unique technical career pathway from high school to the workforce. Anoka Tech will continue its partnerships with Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP) and the St. Francis High School automotive programs to provide high school students with the opportunity to learn technical skills and earn college credit while still in high school. The Automotive Technician program recently expanded its partnerships through new training agreements with Factory Motor Parts (FMP) and ACDelco. The college will host both companies through various seminars and instructor led courses, taught by ACDelco or FMP instructors. Topics range from basic courses for newer technicians, as well as updated training for experienced technicians to keep current in industry changes. See your local ACDelco or FMP representative for more details on training opportunities. 

For more information about the exciting new changes to the Anoka Technical College Automotive Technology program, visit


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