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Ivy Tech revs up for new automotive program

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An Indiana college is revving up an intense new automotive program designed to increase graduation rates and help students earn technical certificates in less time.

Ivy Tech Community College is spending nearly $500,000 to overhaul its automotive program in Kokomo and create an Automotive Institute, which will be unveiled this fall.

The institute will feature a yearlong program that keeps students in class six to eight hours a day, five days a week, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

It's modeled after a technical school in Tennessee that has an 80-percent retention rate, school officials said.

"I think this is the way of the future," said Ivy Tech Kokomo Region Chancellor Steve Daily.

Students at the new institute will earn certificates in a year, down from the two years currently required to get the same certificate.

Getting students through the program faster could benefit Ivy Tech as well. State officials are considering shifting to a funding formula where the amount of money schools receive is based on graduation rates, not enrollment, Daily said.

Mike Erny, chairman of the automotive technology program, said the automotive institute has been tested at other campuses and has been successful.

He said students still receive lessons in general education topics like reading, writing and mathematics, but those lessons are folded into workplace lessons.

"Students like it," Erny said. "They can see how they're using general education in their career."

The overhaul will transform the automotive shop into a lab that will feel more like the college's nursing labs than an auto shop.

"It will be entirely different from what we're used to," Daily said. "When students pull a car in the lab, they'll be concerned about the dirt on the tires."

The $440,000 price tag is being paid with $140,000 from Ivy Tech and $300,000 in grants.

Classes will begin in October and will have 20 students.

"It's a big initiative," Erny said. "But there's a lot of value seen in it. We're going to produce really outstanding graduates."

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