SRTC, Ford, Hutson partnership

Seated from left are Southern Regional Technical College Automotive Program Chair Mason Miller, SRTC Provost Jim Glass, Robert Hutson III and Robert Hutson Service Manager Bharat Patel. Standing from left are David Alderman, Vice President for Student Affairs Leigh Wallace, Michael Potkovac, Fausto Resendiz Quintanilla, Andrew Vernor, Ford Field Service Engineer Bethany Toups, Jeffery Kitchens and SRTC Automotive Instructor John Tucker.

MOULTRIE, Ga. — On the morning of May 30, Southern Regional Technical College Provost Jim Glass and Robert Hutson III of Robert Hutson Ford Lincoln Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Moultrie met for a signing that solidified Southwest Georgia’s first Ford ACE Partnership. The Ford Automotive Career Exploration (ACE) Program is a national partnership program between Ford Motor Company, Ford/Lincoln dealerships, and higher education institutions. 

By taking part in Web-Based Training (WBT) courses, students attending a Ford ACE partner college obtain valuable knowledge of Ford/Lincoln vehicle systems, an SRTC press release said. Upon completion of each course, students will receive Ford certifications. These modules are a subset of the same courses taken by current dealership technicians. Throughout their careers, Ford provides best-in-class training to Ford/Lincoln dealer technicians at Ford’s Service Training Centers across the U.S. In addition to the WBT courses, Robert Hutson will support students with internship opportunities, career events, and mentoring.

Glass said that the innovative Ford Ace program is yet another example of SRTC’s commitment to meet the needs of students and business leaders alike.

“As a college that is dedicated to meaningful workforce development, we work diligently to provide the best opportunities for our students to succeed, both in class and as they progress into their career fields,” Glass said.

Ford Field Service Engineer Bethany Toups was on hand for the signing. She commented that nationwide, the average automotive technician is now around 55 years of age.

“We have an entire generation of highly skilled and experienced technicians that are nearing retirement, and not enough young technicians positioned to take their places,” Toups said.

The Ford ACE Program is a collaborative effort to solve that problem by increasing interest in automotive careers, while giving students additional tools towards launching their careers.

Students taking part in the Ford ACE program will be one step closer to a rewarding career in the automotive industry, giving them an advantage towards becoming an automotive service technician at one of the Ford/Lincoln 3,200 dealerships nationwide.

Hutson commented that it is a common misconception that careers in automotive technology are low-paying, dead-end jobs.

“Our technicians are professionals,” he said. “We reward our staff with competitive pay, benefits, and retirement options. Our customers deserve the best, so we hire the best. We are confident that this partnership with SRTC will help us to identify our future best of the best.”

Robert Hutson Service Manager Bharat Patel is himself an alumnus of the former Moultrie Technical College, now SRTC. He graduated in the early ’90s, and has been working his way up the ladder at Robert Hutson ever since. Now serving on SRTC’s Advisory Board, Patel said, “I am very excited about our new partnership with SRTC and look forward to mentoring new students and furthering their careers.”

Automotive Technology Program Chair Mason Miller said that the Ford ACE program is a win-win-win for students, SRTC, and area businesses.

“This partnership will not cost the college or our students a dime, and will further prepare automotive students for a career in the automotive field, while developing a much needed skilled work force locally,” he said.