Gloucester County College auto program marks 20th on road

Saturday, May 01, 2010
By Jessica Driscoll

DEPTFORD TWP. Even in a rough economy, Gloucester County College's automotive technology program continues to boast 100 percent employment for its graduates and on Friday, past and future graduates, staff and local officials celebrated its 20 years of success.

"We moved into these newly renovated facilities, as designed by Garrison Architects, a year ago, but we wanted to wait for our official 20-year mark to hold the ribbon-cutting," said Jeff Silvestri, program coordinator of the Ford ASSET and Automotive Performance Technology programs. "We are approaching 300 graduates and, this year, we've had 88 students come through. The challenge, especially in this economy, is to get them all working and so far we've met that goal."

Located on the Gloucester County Institute of Technology campus, the GCC Automotive Technology Center is part of the shared collaboration between the college and the vocational school. The two modern labs have doubled the program's classroom capacity and upgrades have been made to two-bay and three-bay work zones.

The automotive programs are divided into 10-week sessions of classroom instruction and shop experience alternating with 10 weeks of paid cooperative education at participating automotive service providers in the Delaware Valley. Students who complete the two-year selective-admission program are awarded Associate in Applied Science degrees in automotive technology from GCC and, upon graduation, they have the option of entering the workforce immediately as automotive technicians or continuing their education.

Three current students in the program who attended Friday's ceremony exemplify those opportunities.

"I've been working at Ace Ford for two years," said John Ricciardelli, 19, of Washington Township. "I like that this program equips you with what you need to know. You have to put in a lot of effort to succeed, but it's worth it, and the facilities are the best I've seen in the area."

Mike Fortino, 20, of Williamstown said GCC's program provided him with all the experience he needed to be successful at his job at Medford Ford.

"It's all the same equipment we use here," said Fortino. "And the co-op helps a lot, too, because you get a lot of experience working for those 10 weeks."

Though he's been working during his time with the program, Nick Gardy, 18, of West Deptford Township will take a slightly different route after graduation.

"I'll be attending Northwood University in Florida in the fall for automotive management and from there I can get a corporate or field service job," said Gardy. "This program has taught me a lot and both the hands-on training and the online training and certifications really help you to get a job. I'll spend two years at Northwood because all my classes from here transfer and, in my opinion, this program is a lot more up-to-date than others with equipment and, educationally, has the advantage that you can earn your associate's degree."

GCC President Dr. Russell Davis said he couldn't be more proud of the success of the program and its readily employable graduates.

"This program is a great marriage between GCIT and GCC and this place allows our students the opportunity to be trained in an optimal facility," said Davis. "The 100 percent job placement speaks volumes as it's what we strive to do this year and for every year after."


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