As many of my friends know, I’ve always been fascinated by cars. My interest is more than the speed, color or model, though. Rather, I’m intrigued by the entire automotive industry, from design and manufacturing to maintenance, repair, retail and racing. Over the years, I’ve also acquired a few beauties and take great care to ensure their maintenance for optimal performance.
Over the early part of this past summer, I had the opportunity to visit the Automotive Training Center (http://www.autotraining.edu/about-atc/) (ATC) just outside of Philadelphia to meet with students and instructors about cars at this career-building institution.
ATC is a private, post-secondary automotive training school established in 1917. That’s right, 1917, nearly a century. I discovered that 14 car dealerships opened in the Philadelphia area immediately after WWI, which basically created the demand for engine mechanics. It's a pretty cool piece of Philadelphia history, and if you want to read a little more about that, click here.
Students at ATC develop and tune their skills through specialized programs that leading employers in the automotive industries seek. Here’s an interesting fact: I learned on my tour that 91 percent of these hard working students are hired in great jobs immediately following their education at ATC, and that’s fantastic. Especially when you compare the percentage of high school football players that make it to the NCAA – only 6%; and less than 2% of those make it to the NFL! These people are getting hired, folks!
The tour of ATC also revealed the latest technology available for teaching, such as modifying engine parts to improve efficiency, kind of like I did to my body this summer!
Let me geek you out for a minute: In the machine shop, I discovered valve re-facing and seat repair equipment, milling and decking machines, boring and honing tools and a computerized crankshaft balancer. Yep, I know, say what? Then they pulled out, here goes, wait for it - a flowbench for cylinder head modification, an engine and a chasis dynamometer, which is also available for students to use on their personal engines and vehicles. All this equipment is designed for a hands-on learning experience. And we’re talking about some dirty, greasy hands, ya know?! I was impressed by the one-on-one interaction between the instructors and students. Everyone seemed so engaged and passionate about what they were working on.
The program that interested me most, of course, was hi-performance technology, which is where I spent most of my visit. They teach engine principles and how to maximize performance by combining the best parts with the best fit, in other words, adjusting the machines that make parts with extremely fine tolerances for performance.
Before arriving, my knowledge of auto maintenance was limited, and frankly, it still is. I mean, I take real good care of my rides, but these guys – they’re over the top. For example, I can tell you one of the best features of my Ferrari are the carbon-ceramic disc brakes, but now I know why – they’re made from a special mixture of powders, resins and fibers that have been used since the early 70s for aerospace; the 80s for motorsports; and since 2000 for sports cars. Carbon-ceramic offers significant performance benefits in both wet and dry conditions, and to me, braking is the most valuable asset on a performance car. Right?
I also gained a much better understanding of the automotive business, and am grateful to have been presented with some tempting classroom options should I consider a career beyond football in an area that I’m passionate about – cars! I’ve included some of the photos that were taken during the tour and will be blogging about the Automotive Training Center again this season, as they’ve invited me to their graduation ceremonies and some other fun events.
Thank you, again, ATC for the opportunity and thank you to all my friends and fans for reading!