April 25, 2014

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The diesel program is one of more than 30 occupational training programs currently enrolling at EVIT. Pictured here: (left) Cooper Sparr, who graduated from Arcadia High School and completed EVIT's diesel program last year, and Rhane Echeverria, 18, a senior from Corona del Sol High School who is currently enrolled in the program.

Media contact: CeCe Todd, (480) 461-4032

Engines don’t intimidate the young women enrolled in the transportation programs at the East Valley Institute of Technology. Nor do the men who dominate those classrooms and industries.

“There’s only a few girls here, but we’re not discriminated (against) in any way. We’re given the same treatment as everyone else,” said EVIT aviation student Courtney Poulin, 16, a junior from Combs High School. Poulin wants to be an aircraft technician. “It’s pretty cool being able to see some of the things that women didn’t used to be able to see and work with.”

Like the industries they feed into, EVIT’s transportation technology programs – automotive, aviation, collision repair and diesel – are dominated by males. EVIT is trying to change that by emphasizing that girls, too, belong in these programs and industries.

The transportation classes are among more than 30 occupational training programs currently enrolling at the Dr. A. Keith Crandell (Main) Campus, 1601 W. Main St., and the East Campus, 6625 S. Power Road. Aviation is offered at the East Campus, and automotive, collision repair and diesel programs are at Main.

EVIT’s programs are tuition-free for high school students – district, charter or home-schooled – who reside in Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Higley, Queen Creek or J.O. Combs school districts. Tuition-based programs for adults are also enrolling, with financial aid available.

Jazmin Gonzalez, 17, a senior from Tempe High School, is enrolled in EVIT’s collision repair program – and she loves it. “We have an awesome teacher,” she said of instructor Hollywood Leary, “and we’re not just stuck in a book.”

Gonzalez’s father has worked in mechanics and her brother does body work. But when she told her parents that she was enrolling in collision repair, Mom’s response was: “Why are you going to do that? You’re a girl.”

Gonzalez, who has grown up around guys and cars, said she likes collision repair, especially the business part of it in which you meet new customers every day. She also enjoys the creativity involved in collision repair, such as mixing paints to achieve just the right color.

After she completes her EVIT program, Gonzalez plans to attend Mesa Community College or South Mountain Community College to study business. She would like to own and operate her own body shop someday.

And her teacher thinks she has what it takes to do just that. Collision repair is more than body work and painting; it’s also business, Leary said. He added that there are at least 60 different occupations that can benefit from collision repair training – such as insurance adjusters or tech and sales reps.

“You need to know how to write an estimate and read an estimate,” he said.

Male or female, all students can benefit from EVIT’s automotive program, according to Mike McAfee of the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association. “The East Valley Institute of Technology has one of the premier automotive programs in the nation.”

In Arizona, EVIT was the first school to obtain NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) certification. And it has maintained that certification for 14 years, McAfee said.

“You have to have accreditation and certification,” he said. “That tells our employers that you’re teaching the right stuff.”

Consequently, EVIT is one of the top high schools in the nation for placing automotive students in jobs. And there is no other school in Arizona that comes close, McAfee said, adding that other high schools might produce six or seven automotive interns each year while EVIT produces 40. “It’s huge what this school does for our industry,” he said.

EVIT also has the only NATEF-certified collision repair program in Arizona.

Female employees are much needed in automotive and collision repair, McAfee said, especially since 50 percent of the industry’s customers are female. “We look to public education. That really is our pipeline.”

And for any young women who think their place isn’t in the garage, automotive instructor Randy Golding points out that in some ways, they can do a better job in engine diagnostics than men can. “Women think differently than men. They hear things that men don’t,” he said. “Women are very intuitive to things as a technician that men are not.”

EVIT’s automotive and aviation programs also offer dual enrollment college credit. Two out of three EVIT students go on to college.

To register for the 2014-15 school year, visit www.evit.com and see your high school counselor. For more information, contact enrollment director Melissa Valenzuela at (480) 461-4153 or mvalenzuela@evit.com.

It is the policy of the East Valley Institute of Technology District #401 to provide all persons with equal employment and education opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, marital status, age or disability. District grievance procedures will be followed for compliance with Title IX and Section 504 requirements. The compliance officer is the EVIT Superintendent.

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