Valley school helps keep America running

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- We all know the value of a college education, but while America's universities are busy turning out engineers, doctors, lawyers and businessmen, the question arises: what if they could not  get to work, test the products they design, or deliver the goods they sell?

Well, all that that all could happen if it were not for another type of school turning out graduates who literally keep America running.

“What we are already seeing is a shortage of technicians in the marketplace that's lengthening the time of vehicles being down or out of service,” said Michael Romano.

Romano is president of the Avondale campus of Universal Technical Institute and says whether it's the big rigs that haul our products, the cars that get us to work, or the engines that keep our factories humming, America is going nowhere without technicians.

“So automotive, diesel, motorcycle, collision, marine -- that is really our niche of how we educate our students," Romano said.

But to do that, Romano says, they are working to break the traditional mold of vocational and tech schools.

“Let’s be clear,” he said, “most people have an idea of this type of work as it is not a very clean environment. It is kind of a default if you can't cut it in other areas.”

But Romano says the reality is that students can find success at UTI.

Step one: decide what you really want.

“What I would encourage is that as people evaluate what's right for them is to follow their passions on where they want to go,” Romano advised.

He also says students need to realize, however, that those same science, technology, engineering and math skills stressed in high school will be essential.

He believes that UTI has found a way to make learning those skills easier.

“So we take it from the concept of mathematical equation to real-life, practical use. That is stem education at its best, and that is what we continue to drive throughout our curriculum," he said.

And all you have to do is look around to see that in action: truck techs often look like IT techs, as likely to use a computer as a wrench.

And because technology does drive an education at UTI, Romano says that can open even more doors for graduates in the future.

”The applied mechanics that you learn here within our institution, many can carry that on to continued education through mechanical engineering, electrical engineering," he said.

Another important thing for students to look at is industry partnerships.

Romano said, “Our students going through that program can not only get that core knowledge, but they can get Ford factory training, they can get GM training, Nissan training, Toyota training, Volvo training, BMW training."

Romano says it is all fueled by the desire to help students race into the future, full speed ahead.

“And yes, we have had many people cross our stage as graduates who before would have never even imagined that they could have pursued any type of continued education," he said.

UTI’s training programs are designed to be completed in 45 to 112 weeks. Depending on the nature and length of the program, tuition ranges from approximately $21,100 to $54,200 per program.

The most popular program, automotive technology, currently costs about $30,000 for 51 weeks.

Help finding financial assistance is available.

The school also launched a third shift of classes from 6:30 to 11 p.m. to accommodate students with full-time jobs who want to pursue an automotive technician education.