Not Your Father's Auto Shop Class in La Puente

Forget about the carborator fire up the dynamometer

By Kim Baldonado
|  Wednesday, May 16, 2012  |  Updated 8:59 AM PDT
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There are some things that haven't changed in auto shop. It's still loud and it's still dominated by teenage boys standing under cars, working with their hands, but in this class, students also stand in front of a computer screen, which displays information, generated by a dynamometer. Kim Baldonado reports from La Puente.

There are some things that haven't changed in auto shop. It's still loud and it's still dominated by teenage boys standing under cars, working with their hands, but in this class, students also stand in front of a computer screen, which displays information, generated by a dynamometer. Kim Baldonado reports from La Puente.

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There are some things that haven't changed in auto shop -- it's still loud and it's still dominated by teenage boys standing under cars, working with their hands.

But in one La Puente High school, students also stand in front of a computer screen that displays information generated by a dynamometer.

"There's a chassis dynamometer which tests and diagnosis the whole drivetrain from the wheels to the engine," said teacher Mike McCarthy.

He proudly points out Nogales High School in La Puente has not one, but two dynamometers. No other high school in the state has one.

McCarthy makes the point that the state is requiring tougher emission standards, and "we need to have technicians trained to make cars pass smog."

The would-be technicians in this class will benefit from a $2.1 million upgrade that brought this auto shop class from its 1962 equipment to present-day technology.

Student Marco Dominguez is excited by the opportunity.

"Not every school gets these things and it's cool we get to experience and use this equipment," he said.

Half of the money came from a state bond passed by voters five years ago, and the other half from the district.

Mercedes Piedra is an auto shop student.  Her older brother went to Nogales High, too.

"He says when he was in auto shop, he didn't have the same things we have," Mercedes said. "He tells me to enjoy it, appreciate it, and pay attention."

It's good advice, that along with new technology, will give these students an advantage.

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