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.
“Students like it,” Erny said. “They can see how they’re using general education in their career.”
The overhaul will come with upgrades in equipment and a makeover for the automotive shop, which will no longer be called a shop.
The space is being transformed into a lab.
Daily said it will be top of the line and pristine. He said it will more closely match the college’s nursing labs than an automotive shop.
“It will be entirely different from what we’re used to,” Daily said. “When students pull a car in the lab, they’ll be concerned about the dirt on the tires.”
All that work comes with a price tag. Daily said it won’t be cheap. The overhaul will cost $440,000.
Ivy Tech will fork out $140,000 for the project. The remaining $300,000 will be funded through a grant, Daily said.
It’s not a money-making program for the school, though, especially since it can only take 20 students at a time.
To break even or come out ahead with this automotive program, Ivy Tech would have to charge students about $20,000, Daily said.
Instead, the program will likely cost students somewhere around $8,000 though that number hasn’t officially been decided yet.
“It’s a big initiative,” Erny said. “But there’s a lot of value seen in it. We’re going to produce really outstanding graduates.”
• Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8585 or email@example.com.