This past week saw another visit to the Montreal International Auto Show for NOVA Auto. It’s something that the department has been doing for as long as I can remember. Every year, all the students and staff of the Auto department visit the show to learn about new models and features that they will be working on in the not so distant future.
The question has been asked, how does a field trip to a car show provide any educational value? What’s the merit in going? Tough questions 🙂 Just like most tough questions, there really is not one single simple answer.
The original idea of going to the show was a pragmatic one. Although we have some pretty fantastic cars at the school, we are limited as to what we can keep on hand. Remembering that this is a course about fixing cars, where else can a whole department go to see as many new models from as many manufacturers in one spot? If we visited individually every dealership the number of potential field trips would be endless. Not that I’m necessarily against endless field trips mind you :). But the reality is that there is so much to learn in the Automobile Mechanics program, that every day away from our school, must have value. Thankfully we have several reasons why this trip works!
I think it’s a given that most students (and teachers) in Auto are “Car guys and gals” at heart. We love cars, and trucks, and most anything to do with them. So it’s a pretty safe bet that some may have visited the Auto Show before. The difference is, this time they’re going with a purpose. While walking around the show, we’ve asked our students to try and identify new technologies that they may have never known existed. Understanding that we have four of the five classes visiting with us, different classes are learning about different competencies, so their interests at the show may be different.
One group might be more interested in something like Radar Adaptive Cruise Control. It’s a pretty cool feature, how does it work? Where do the manufacturers “hide” the sensor array? How many systems are integrated into making it work? Others might be more focused on the suspension systems of the cars, or the braking systems. My class was just finishing the Inspecting Internal Combustion Engines module, so we were curious about engine designs, displacement, and efficiency. Each class had an area of interest, but they were all asked to keep in mind all aspects as they walked around the vehicles.
Looking at vehicles from a service technician’s point of view versus that of the average layperson, changes things. “Is that ever cool!”, sometimes turns into: what were they thinking? How am I going to be able to fix that without taking half the car apart? 🙂 The lighting systems alone, on cars today they’re incredible but sometimes it requires front fascia disassembly to replace the lamp or lamp module as the case may be. These are just some of the things our students are asked to think about as they walk around.
For me, as an educator, one of the best reasons for going came from one of our students. Hearing a student say that he was amazed at himself for how far he had come since he started the program, made the trip. He couldn’t believe where he started, and what he knew and understood about the cars and their designs today. How awesome is that? That’s why we go to the car show for a field trip.
(Derek Stacey – auto mechanics teacher)
In addition, NOVA’s Auto department along with eight other Centres from Montreal, the South Shore and North Shore had a Kiosk @ the Auto Show . This was a chance for us to meet new potentially new clients, answer their questions and guide them in the right direction. We also met quite a few students who had already graduated and are now working in the field. I personally met a student who finished the course 15 years ago and is still in the trade employed @ Prestige Mitsubishi.
It was a wonderful experience seeing thousands of people pass through the show and being able to share what we had to offer with them.
(John Britton – auto mechanics teacher)