Ivy Tech Community College is spending nearly $500,000 to overhaul its automotive program in Kokomo and, hopefully, increase graduation rates, officials said.
This fall, the college will unveil its Automotive Institute, which is modeled after a technical school in Tennessee that boasts an 80 percent retention rate.
“I think this is the way of the future,” said Ivy Tech Kokomo Region Chancellor Steve Daily.
The institute will be an intense year long program that has students in class six to eight hours a day, five days a week learning about fixing vehicles.
At the end of the year, students will graduate with technical certificates from Ivy Tech. Right now, it takes two years to get the same certificates.
The first class of students will start in October.
The hope is that students will be more apt to complete the program if it can be done in a shorter amount of time.
Mike Erny, automotive technology program chair, said he’s heard students say that very thing.
“They say, ‘I’m not going to go to school for two years to get a degree if I can just take a few classes and find a job,’” he said. “Then they say, ‘If I could get all the classes in a year, I might stay.’”
And Ivy Tech really wants to see those students complete the program. Its state funding could depend on it.
Daily said the state may go to a funding formula that ties the money a college receives to graduation rates rather than enrollment figures, like it has been in the past.
Ivy Tech recently piloted the new automotive program at other campuses, and it’s been successful, Erny said.
Students are still getting general education lessons in reading, writing and mathematics. But in the automotive institute, those lessons are folded into workplace lessons.