Partnership with Yonkers Honda opens a career path for Auto Tech students

Seniors Andres Gomez and Kevin Herrera watched a Yonkers Honda Service technician mount a tire and rotate it while computer diagnostics displayed nearby.

Andres and Kevin were among a group of SWBOCES Career Tech students who spent the day at the dealership Nov. 15 shadowing technicians on the job.

“Since I was a kid I loved cars,” Kevin said, particularly high-end vehicles like Lamborghini’s. His tastes have changed, and now he is more interested in Honda Accords.

“We are looking at stuff that I haven’t heard about before,” he said. “I’m excited to learn about it.”

Andres said he loves to solve problems. Diagnosing issues with cars is an exciting opportunity for him.

“With electric cars there are more changes and new opportunities,” he said.

Dealership owner Jackie Feinberg, whose family has owned the dealership for more than 90 years, said her grandmother was among the first female dealers in the business in the 1960s. Ms. Feinberg said that Honda had begun an “adopt-a-school” program to recruit technicians.

SWBOCES, she said, was at the top of their list.

After visiting the Valhalla campus and meeting with Director Dahlia Jackson, Principal Evangelo Michas and Assistant Principal Philip Donohue, Ms. Feinberg extended the invitation to visit the dealership. The purpose, she said, is a way to inspire students, after they graduate, to become full- or part-time technicians.

“There is a need to attract incoming talent,” she said. “Especially as electric cars are on the horizon."

Dealerships also need to replace technicians who retire from the industry, many with decades of experience. “There is a lot of space for incoming technicians,” she said.

Students would have an opportunity to join the technician team as an express technician and work up to diagnostics and heavy repairs as they engage in the dealership’s training program.

“It’s great way to make a good living and literally build your own toolbox,” Ms. Feinberg said. “There is a lot of stability in being a technician. We see about 100 cars a day.”

“I hope we can be a resource for SWBOCES if they have students who are ready to work,” she said.

Back in the garage, Hondas of all kinds were up on lifts, hoods up and in some cases tires removed.

Senior Alexander Vargas wanted to study automotive technology because he has been around cars his whole life, often helping his dad with repairs. Alexander wants to build engines and has been working towards that at SWBOCES.

Senior Miguel Alvarez decided as a child that wanted to be an automotive technician. “I have a genuine love of cars,” he said.

Principal Michas said this is a great partnership working with Yonkers Honda. “It will provide our students with industry experience,” he said.

Automotive Technology teacher Scott Nelson agreed.

“It’s a great opportunity to link what we do in the classroom to the real world,” he said. “It’s great to talk to technicians and hear how they started in the industry.”

Yonkers Honda Service Director Rich Leon was impressed with the SWBOCES students.

“The ambition, the hunger to want to do this business is impressive,” he said. “We are a dealer that will sponsor students when they graduate. With technology changing, it’s the best time to get them right out of school. They are like sponges.”