“The benefits of this are extreme because this is almost the only place in New York, possibly the country, where they actually have a live working automotive shop,” said Daniel Benoit, assistant professor of Automotive, Manufacturing and Electrical Engineering Technologies. “Most colleges that teach automotive have it broken down to where it’s an individual lab for each thing.”
The senior automotive lab functions primarily to provide valuable experience to students who want to find a career in an automotive-related field.
The college’s website states: “The purpose of the senior automotive lab is to provide live work for our students to gain experience on during their senior year at school. Many faculty, staff and students have taken advantage of the services the automotive students have provided throughout the years.”
“For the last two semesters of their two-year degree [students] come out here and work twelve hours a week,” said Benoit. He mentioned that students work in the Automotive lab is similar to what the can expect work in the industry.
According to Benoit, the students work the entire time the lab is open. The students in the lab provide repairs to cars that belong to Hudson Valley students and faculty.
Not only does the lab give experience to automotive students, it also provides a less expensive repair service to Hudson Valley students and faculty. “That’s the other side of the coin,” said Benoit. “Now you have students that for a $15 lab fee can bring their car in and get it repaired. They provide their own parts; we do the entire repair.”
The Senior Automotive Lab’s page on the Hudson Valley website states, “The automotive lab will not take any job presented to us. We will evaluate vehicles by type of work, labor hours necessary and our availability to the tools needed to complete the job.”
The automotive lab generally does not work on cars that were manufactured before 2000. Because the lab is not a registered automotive shop, if parts are damaged during a repair the lab will not be liable.
To receive a repair, one must obtain a lab slip from the cashier’s office for $15 and provide their own parts. The time it takes to perform a repair a given vehicle varies on a case-by-case basis. The time also varies depending on how advanced the students making the repair are.
Some of the students working in the lab have had an interest in automotive repair from a young age. Jesse Smith, an automotive technical services major, described his early experiences with cars.
“Pretty much I grew up with my dad, and we were always working on cars and stuff. He had a couple classic cars,” said Smith. “During high school, I decided that I wanted to do this for a living. The senior automotive lab has definitely taught me a lot. I’ve worked in a couple of other shops and went to botech, so I had some experience, but this has definitely improved my skill and my knowledge.”
The Hudson Valley senior automotive lab operates every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Cogan Hall. On these days the lab is open in the morning between 8:30 and 11:00, as well as in the afternoon between 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.