Auto tech course helps students gear up for jobs

"I just love being under the hood," said Jordan Caputo as he settled in for a 6 PM class.

While students in the room had laptops and notebooks ready, the subject matter wasn't English or history. And this classroom is at a car dealership.

It's a course where classwork involves diagrams of engines, and "field trips" are to the garage for hands-on experience. Dane County School Consortium offers numerous courses like this, designed to prepare students for technical careers while allowing them to earn credits towards their high school degree.

Ned Lease, one of the course instructors, says local shops have a big need for graduates with hands-on skills - like automotive skills. And the certification that students can receive through this apprenticeship program means a job could be waiting for them whether they go to a four-year university or not.

The automotive program is new and will run for the entire school year. The course at Francois Ford in Belleville currently hosts students from Belleville High School and New Glarus High School, but similar programs in other fields like engineering are held for students around Dane County.