By STACEY CHARLESWORTH
This will be the last semester that automotive classes will be offered at BYU.
Dr. Ronald F. Gonzalez, chair of the Technology Teacher Education program, said the automotive series of the TTE program is being closed primarily because there are too few people majoring in the program.
“BYU has a tendency to fund programs according to the number of majors,” he said.
Additionally, the Quonset buildings, where the automotive classes are held, are old and dilapidated, he said and the plan is to take those down.
There are seven areas of depth to choose from in the TTE program: drafting, electronics, graphic arts, woodwork, metalwork, auto mechanics and technology education.
According to Gonzalez, there are about 60 TTE majors at BYU, of which only two or three have declared an emphasis in auto mechanics.
BYU’s automotive major prepares students to teach auto mechanics at the secondary and postsecondary levels.
Gonzalez said students wanting to major in automotives and stay in the area will now have to go to UVSC.
While BYU prepares its students to teach automotive classes, UVSC’s automotive course work is strictly vocational, he said.
Matt Leininger and Steve Brown will both graduate this April in TTE with an emphasis in auto mechanics. They will be the final automotive graduates from BYU.
Both students said they liked the teaching aspect of their major. Brown, 40, from Sandy, attended Ricks College where he received a two-year degree in automotives. He then worked for 15 years in the automotive industry. Brown decided to return to school and enroll in BYU’s TTE program in order to get a technology teaching degree.
Leininger, 25, from Rocky Mount, N.C., said it is sad that the automotive series of TTE is being closed, and he thinks it is a bad idea.
“By cancelling the program, it sends out a message that the university isn’t concerned about practical knowledge, just about theories,” he said.
Brown said he thinks an automotive class should be offered as an elective to fulfill a GE requirement.
Although there are only two or three automotive majors at BYU, automotive classes are popular among various majors.
Technology Education 149, which teaches basic automotive skills, is the most popular of the five automotive classes offered at BYU.
Julie Scott, 21, a senior from Salt Lake majoring in sociology, said she took the class to learn basic automotive skills.
“I didn’t even know what was under the hood before I took Tech Ed 149,” she said.
Scott said Technical Education 149 is one of the most worthwhile classes she has taken at BYU. She said she has recommended the class to many people.
“It’s ridiculous that the automotive classes are being closed,” she said. “We’re supposed to come to learn, go forth to serve. How are you going to help someone on the side of the road with a flat tire if you don’t even know how to change a tire?”
Scott said the class taught her practical skills because she was able to work on her own car during the lab portion of the class.
Several former students of Tech Ed 149 said they have not gone to a mechanic since they took the class. One former student said he saved $500 by repairing his car on his own.
Greg Coxey, 24, a senior from Reno, Nev., majoring in international relations, had planned to take Tech Ed 149 in the fall. He said he was disappointed the class would no longer be offered.
“We need classes that teach us practical skills,” he said.