NATEF accreditation shifts CNCC Automotive and Diesel Technology Program into top gear |

NATEF accreditation shifts CNCC Automotive and Diesel Technology Program into top gear

CRAIG — Students preparing for careers in the automotive industry will receive some of the highest standards in training, making employers take notice, now that Colorado Northwestern Community College's Automotive and Diesel Technology program has received NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) accreditation.

"The accreditation and certification make a difference. It gives us the confidence that they (students) have the basic skills they need in the workplace," said Larry Kunkle, of Elkhead Collision.

NATEF — founded in 1893 as an independent, nonprofit organization — assesses technician training programs against standards developed by the automotive industry and the recommendation of qualifying programs for accreditation by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence or ASE.

"When an automotive technology program is certified, it has proven to have surpassed standards that are considered to be above the industry norm," May said. "The Automotive Technology Program at Colorado Northwestern (Community College) had recognized that, to become competitive with other auto tech programs, it would need to meet the standard to become NATEF accredited, as well."

May spent nearly a year, more than 800 hours, compiling documentation, while continuing to teach full-time. He was assisted by former Dean of Instruction Donna Theimer and administrative assistant (and his wife) Barb May.

In spring 2017, five members of the Auto Tech Advisory Board — Jacob Barron, of Cook Chevrolet; Tim Bohne, of GCR Tires; Jamie Hoff, of J&J Snap-On Tools; Larry Nue, of Northwest Diesel; and Donna Theimer, Dean of Academics from CNCC — convened 10 meetings to perform a first self-evaluation of the program.

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A second self-evaluation was conducted through the course of four meeting by Jim Baptist, of the Moffat County School District; Ken Meyers, of Ken Meyers Auto Body; Ed Koucherik, of CNCC Mine Safety; and program Advisory Board member Bohne.

Information gleaned during self-evaluations allowed the team to improve and prepare for onsite inspections, with the final inspection to be performed in the spring.

NATEF/ASE representative and evaluation Team Leader Todd Hetherington; John Ponikvar, of T&H NAPA; Kunkle; and Justin Shinn, former auto and diesel tech graduate of CNCC and employ of T&H completed their evaluation in March.

"It's a huge deal," Kunkle said.

Accreditation is expected to provide CNCC with new opportunities to partner with industry to provide the equipment and vehicles needed for student learning.

"I am pleased to inform you that your program meets the strict industry standards required for Master Automobile Service Technology Accreditation. This is the highest level of program accreditation recognized by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence," according to a letter from NATEF received this fall.

The letter continued: "Although many educational institutions strive for it, only a small percentage achieves this accreditation. Both the educational and automotive communities should be proud of your commitment to quality automobile training programs."

Program advisory board members were given certificates of appreciation for their work.

May is excited about the future of the program and said, "the CNCC Automotive and Diesel Technology Program would like to thank all of those who helped to make this happen."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or