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Technical What school to go to?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by bigjoe21, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. bigjoe21
    Joined: Nov 21, 2010
    Posts: 12

    from arizona

    Hello all, I am new to the board and thought I would ask and see what the group had to say about learning the trade.

    Now I am not a spring chicken, I am a active duty vet about to retire and I have my GI Bill to use. I thought long and hard about it and decided I don't want to go out into a job I don't love and would rather do what I enjoy, wrenching on cars and building things.

    I have been looking into schools, Wyotech, McPherson College, Penn College, Ohio Tech etc, and I am trying to figure out which is the best way to go. I have used the search button and came upon some dated threads on some of these but they were filled more with philosophy than with strong advice. While a good lesson is not lost on me, I have the GI Bill to pay my way and I want to learn as soon as possible and spend as much time as I can getting into car building. I have already spent 20 years in a profession so I got that chapter in life done, time to move on.

    So any solid thoughts on these schools or maybe some insight into ones I don't know about? I am from SoCal and would love to move back there but I am open minded to get the training I need/want. After that, I am sure I will have to pay my dues where ever I go and keep learning.
  2. Tman and need louvers ? like this.
  3. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 9,422

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    Something that you should understand is that a lot of those "schools " are for profit private businesses in disguise.

    As such many times they care more about how much money they can make from you than what you will learn or how successful you will or won't be after you graduate.

    You would be further ahead finding someone willing to teach and mentor you while you work.
    A type of apprenticeship.

    Actual university programs would be great.

    Stay away from places that have private "schools " all over the country.
    Their first questions for you will be financial and that should be enough for you to say thanks but no thanks.
  4. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 9,085

    from Raytown Mo

    Depends on what you want to do. There's a lot of faucets to building things, even if you narrow it to the niche of old cars.

    I've heard and seen nothing but good from McPherson and not much more than bad things about Wyotech.
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  5. This......
    need louvers ? likes this.
  6. 1-SHOT
    Joined: Sep 23, 2014
    Posts: 1,371


    Do have worked with several students from Wyo-Tech and they all had basic skills, change fenders,doors hoods and basic sheet metal alignment and straightening and mud work, but when it came to structure repair and alignment they were lost. Newer cars with unibody takes one mind set of skills but old cars and full frame vehicles take a another set of skills.
    I was lucky enough to have a teacher wh worked during the Great Depression and WW II
    Who could fix anything, he was a hard task master but I learned my trade well. Real bodyman can fix anything, a technician changes parts.
    I would get the basic down then find some older man, probably hard to get along with to teach you structure you will be time and talent ahead, Two of the men who had been to Wyo-Tech told me I was the finishing school and all have done really well. Thank you for your service, been there done that. P.M. Me if you need any advice from a old vet. Frank
    302GMC likes this.
  7. Colt54chevy
    Joined: Jun 19, 2016
    Posts: 42

    from Michigan

    Stay far far away from wyotech. Huge class action lawsuit going on for tuition reimbursement and actually a few have been closed. I went there and I learned welding and such......but it's true, they only care about the $$$.
  8. cfmvw
    Joined: Aug 24, 2015
    Posts: 260


    You could also start with community colleges; here in southern Maine we have York County Community College offering a Precision Machining degree program. That one is mostly CNC, but Southern Maine Community College has programs in both manual and CNC machining as well as a pretty good welding program.
  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 41,682


    I'm not quite sure what "the trade" I don't know what schools you should or should not be considering.

    Let us know what you think you want to do with your planned education. Maybe we could be more helpful.
    Truckdoctor Andy and 49ratfink like this.
  10. donno
    Joined: Feb 28, 2015
    Posts: 324


    Thank you for your service. I've been there / done that also. Careful of these schools, the Aircraft industry is loaded with them to. With 56 years in maintenance I feel a lot of younger guy's spent a lot and ended up with a roll-a-way full of tools that for the most part will remain bright and shiny. I would try to find some one that would let you get in a few hours a day for cheap, get to know some other folk's with like interests. What was your MOS / AFSC?. What skills do you have? Willing to do trade of work? Do want to specialize?
  11. Lebowski
    Joined: Aug 21, 2011
    Posts: 1,570


    I too would like to thank you for your service and I also served in the Army for a couple of years back in the early '70s. Did you serve in Iraq or Afghanistan? If so you may want to consider joining the VFW. Go to a meeting or two and put out the word that you're looking to start a career in the automotive field. There may be someone there who owns a garage or body shop who will hire you immediately and teach you as you go. Good luck....
  12. mike bowling
    Joined: Jan 1, 2013
    Posts: 3,421

    mike bowling

    Get your law degree, tinker on cars in your spare time, be a real cut-throat in the courtroom, and retire when you're fifty.
    Build an amazing roadster, go to Viva Las Vegas and pick up a smoking hot 25 year old, and head for Mexico.
    Use your imagination to end the story.........................

    Submitted by a 3 year veteran of the US Army who DIDN'T take advantage of the GI bill, worked in construction for 40 years, and is now retired living on ibuprofen and coffee. OUCH.
    Thanks for your service.
  13. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 15,790


    Yup, get an engineering degree, or go into computer science.

    There is no real money in building cars. Ask me how I know....
  14. X2
    The employment opportunities are both infinitely broader and higher paying.

    Thank you for your service.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
    gimpyshotrods likes this.
  15. Speedwrench
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 977


    If you want to stay in high performance automotive but want to go over and above fabrication, IUPUI ( Indiana University/ Purdue University - Indianapolis) has an engineering program that is highly oriented to race car design and related topics. The main thrust of the program is Indy cars/sports cars.

    I think there may be a couple of universities on the east coast that have similar progarms in engineering but are oriented toward NASCAR.

    Good luck with your future endeavors.
  16. KandN Kustoms
    Joined: Dec 15, 2008
    Posts: 170

    KandN Kustoms

    I've heard nothing but good things about the hotrod university in South Dakota.
    But it's been awhile, are they still open?

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  17. H380
    Joined: Sep 20, 2015
    Posts: 373

    from Louisiana

    Those 2 year for profit "Schools" cost more than a true 4 year college degree. The best value is state VoTec and/or Community Colleges. The trouble is finding a good one in the area you live.
  18. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,610


    Good restoration shops are so over-booked and under-staffed right now that it wouldn't be hard to find one that would hire a responsible person with no experience if you're willing to work cheap and learn as you go. That's the best way to learn, and you get paid instead of paying.

    If you're also wanting to take advantage of your GI bill, take some welding classes, body/paint and mechanics classes at a local tech school at night to go with your new day job. I don't know much about what the GI bill will pay for but some secondary classes in a different field would be a great fall-back if you decide to keep old cars as a hobby instead of a career later.

    I worked at a fairly well known (in the niche of 1st gen Thunderbirds, at least) restoration shop for a few years and we laughed at the Wyo-tech guys. They didn't know shit except that they were worth $50K starting wage.
    need louvers ? likes this.
  19. Joe Coughlin
    Joined: Jun 20, 2016
    Posts: 48

    Joe Coughlin

    I was going to say about the hot rod institute in South Dakota also. Stacey David's gears mentions them a bit. Was also planning on going there and using my GI Bill to do the courses they offer. I spoke to the VA guy there and he said you have to time the courses right because the GI Bill only lets you spend like 18000 a year on courses.

    Check out the link to the you tube video or if your a but unsure of clicking on random links on forums haha check out Stacey David's gearz on you tube (season 6 episode 13-3)

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  20. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,701

    from Indy

    apply for a railroad job, good pay
  21. buffaloracer
    Joined: Aug 22, 2004
    Posts: 744

    from kansas

    My experience has been exactly like what Tim said above.
    Yes to McPherson College and stay as far away from Wyo Tech as possible.
    Tman likes this.
  22. bigjoe21
    Joined: Nov 21, 2010
    Posts: 12

    from arizona

    First off let me say thanks for all the replies. This is the first board I have ever been a part of where the input has been quick and positive.

    Let me fill in some gaps and maybe that will clear some things up.

    I am completing 20 years of active duty. I have a profession and more CERTS than I can shake a stick at. I also have multiple degrees in disciplines that will pay me $90k and up annually, so I am not worried about a fall back career. I have my military retirement and even though it is not big bucks it will pay some of the bills. I also have the Post 911 gi bill which will pay for my housing and schooling while I attend. I am 100% debt free, so in my maybe delusional mind I think I will be good on funds for now.

    What my end goal is. I want to work on cars, more specifically I want to build hot rods, customs, street rods, rat rods etc. I want to learn all I can about the whole project, motors, transmissions, paint, body, electrical, all of it. I know it will take time and effort and dedication, I have that. What I want is a school to go to that will teach me a great foundation that I can take to a shop and build off of. IF it doesn't work out where I can make an okay living between my retirement and wrenching in a shop I will go back to my old career and work on cars on the side as a hobby or to turn a buck here and there.

    I understand that the "for profit" schools are just that and will want your money more than care about what you learn. I just wondered if they were all really like that or if there was a good one here or there. I was looking at WYOtech but maybe that is not such a good idea. I think I am leaning towards McPherson College. I really like that I will get a degree and learn a lot from there. I just wonder how hard it is to get in.

    Does anyone know about Ohio Tech or Penn College?
    H380 likes this.
  23. bigjoe21
    Joined: Nov 21, 2010
    Posts: 12

    from arizona

    Man I like that UNOH High Performance Tech program. Looks like it could be a great start. I would just have to go learn body & paint somewhere else.
  24. SUSQ
    Joined: Nov 5, 2012
    Posts: 101


    I know Penn College very well. My son has enrolled there and will begin studying in their auto restoration program in the upcoming semester. This is a first-rate program at a first-rate school. My wife is an alum of their dental hygiene program from back when it was Williamsport Area Community College. WACC has now morphed into Pennsylvania College of Technology (Penn College) which is affiliated with Penn State University. While my wife attended the school, one of her closest friends and classmates was an older "non traditional" student. Her friend thrived at the school and holds her experience there in very high regard.

    The Penn College restoration program is very closely aligned with the Antique Auto Club of America and the AACA sends vehicles to Penn College to be restored by the students. AACA has provided cars from the brass era up to a 1970 Chevelle SS454 for the students to restore. I've seen the Chevelle during the restoration and after completion and it's impeccable and has won awards. A major AACA meet was just held on the school grounds this summer. My son and I attended the event and it was impressive to say the least.

    Some very prominent "car guys" we see on TV stay in close contact with the instructors at Penn College and make financial gifts on the down low to the restoration program as well as visit with the students. The instructors work closely with the students to get some prime summer internships as well. The facilities are top notch and the curriculum is well designed, i.e., my son will be able to get credit for an art course by taking a Penn College course in painting flames! This is a well run program at a well run institution geared toward students of all ages and backgrounds.

    Thanks for your service and best of luck!
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
  25. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 5,323


    bigjoe21, if it were me, I'd go to school for an aviation career rather then automotive. After a tour in the USAF as an aircraft mechanic and crew chief I obtained an FAA A&P License and went to work as a mechanic for a major airline and worked my way up in management and later hired on with the FAA. I am now retired with two pensions and great medical benefits. An aviation career has paid well and allowed me to provide a good living for my family.
    Trust me there's much more money and benefits in aviation then the automotive industry. Just saying.

  26. Drewski
    Joined: Feb 22, 2008
    Posts: 266


    I attended and graduated from Nashville Auto Diesel College in auto and diesel mechanics 1966-67. I agree with others about the schools being more about the money than the way the curriculum was structured. They used the draft exemption from the military to hold a lot of the guys in school.
    While I will admit that I learned a lot, there was no practical experience. We took engines apart that had been disassembled so many times they should have been equipped with zippers. Lot of difference between working on a differential, transmission or engine staged on a stand and actually having to take it out of the car or work on it in the car. Initially after graduation, I went to work as a motorcycle mechanic and was later drafted in the good old US Army. Fortunately the training did get me into a technical field (nothing to do with cars or trucks) in the Army as opposed to being thrown into the infantry.

    Now with 20/20 hindsight, I would have gone to one of Tennessee's Vocational Technical Schools which had a great track record for training and employment after graduation. I would advise you to look into the schools track record regarding student placement after graduation.

    NADC is now Lincoln Tech and all that I have heard about them is very negative.
  27. harley rider
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 527

    harley rider

    I know a couple young guys that went to Wyotech and they both said it was a waist of money . got jobs after words but found they hadn't been told what they really needed to know to work in a real body shop. I know another that went to macpherson said it was a great school. good luck what ever you do. Thanks for your service!
  28. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 21,415

    Jalopy Joker

    guess that you have already put in some time at the "school of hard knocks" - maybe stick your nose in the door of some local car shops & see if they need a older, yet young at heart, trainee to be a gopher, floor sweeper, etc.
  29. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,220

    rusty rocket

    Dont go to the hot rod institute.
    Tman likes this.
  30. Joe Coughlin
    Joined: Jun 20, 2016
    Posts: 48

    Joe Coughlin

    Why not?

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