Return home

Program helps automotive students learn invaluable hands-on skills

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 10/22/22

Rome Free Academy senior Joe Corigliano admits he isn’t really the best student in a classroom — but get him in an educational experience outside of it.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Program helps automotive students learn invaluable hands-on skills


ROME — Rome Free Academy senior Joe Corigliano admits he isn’t really the best student in a classroom — but get him in an educational experience outside of it, where he can actually learn by doing, and he said he excels.

Madison-Oneida BOCES in Verona offers an embedded program for its Automotive Collision Repair students to take classes and work daily at the CARSTAR Davidson Collision facility on Rome-Taberg Road.

Corigliano, who has had an affinity for cars since he was a youngster restoring a 1981 Buick Regal with his uncle, is part of that program. He said he especially enjoys performing oil changes, changing tires and getting under a car when it is up on the lift.

“I’m more of a hands-on person rather than spending time sitting in a classroom,” he explained. “Being here makes our class more fun and interesting.”

Corigliano intends to continue on to a trade school after his graduation next year with the goal of becoming a high performance technician working on sports cars, maybe even with NASCAR. He said he hopes someday to build his own high performance car.

The MOBOCES/Davidson partnership aims to help make that possible.

Teacher Ryan Tabolt and Teaching Assistant Ashley Esengard hold their classes right there at the Davidson facility. Most of their time is spent working at stations throughout the dealership, spending time with the Davidson professionals in collision repair, parts, service, detailing and even on the sales floor selling vehicles.

The MOBOCES course is for two years, with juniors studying on campus and the seniors going to CARSTAR. There are 16 students currently in both sections. Tabolt said his own MOBOCES mentor Phil Helmer had a similar course at Nye Automotive in Oneida and that inspired Tabolt to approach owner Jon Davidson about doing the same at his Rome facility.

“I thought this was really a great way to teach the students,” Tabolt said. “This is not as scary as getting a job somewhere because they still have their teacher with them when they need guidance. It’s a safe place to learn.”

This is their second year working at the Davidson facility.

Esengard said the students do have some classroom work in a dedicated room there, but most of their time is spent actually working with Davidson personnel. They rotate between jobs every marking period normally, unless they have found a place they really enjoy and want to stick with it. Students make regular reports, have weekly assignments and tests.

They can finish the program with as many as four different entry-level Automotive Service Excellence certifications, Esengard added. They can also earn technical endorsement to their Regents diplomas by passing a nationally recognized industry exam.

Davidson Parts Manager Ryan Alger agreed the embedded program offers educational opportunities well beyond what the students might receive solely in a classroom. And their technicians - who are paid a flat rate by the job - are happy to be able to take that extra time to show the next generation of auto industry workers what it is like to work in a dealership, he said.

“This is a great experience for these young adults to get out and see how this all works from the inside,” Alger explained. “Instead of just sitting in a classroom, this lets them see the process from the technician’s point of view. They are all working together as a well-oiled machine.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here