Auto program fine tunes skills

Learning a profession can be completed in a variety of ways, and the Cerritos College Automotive Department teaches students in both hands-on and classroom settings.

Vocational training is given to those that join in the art of the automotive industry.

Even though the books and classroom still exist in the program, there is no better way of learning than getting in tune with the various tools and techniques used in the business.

Edgar Flores, automotive technician major, likes the interaction of the automotive classes.

“It’s more interactive, you’re hands on,” Flores said. “Once you have an interest in something, you like doing it no matter what.”

Flores believes it’s a lot better than sitting in a class, listening to a professor lecture.

Jon Bender is one of the full time instructors of the automotive department.

Many of Bender’s classes consist of lecture labs where the class discusses theory, operation and how systems operate, then goes into the lab and practices what was discussed in the lecture.

Automotive majors must be well aware of the different math equations and formulas that go hand-in-hand with the business.

“It’s very similar to maybe chemistry or biology,” Bender said. “There is math involved with almost everything we do.”

Bender is one of the instructors that teaches students about the electronics in today’s vehicles.

“We have more computers on the cars today than you could even count,” Bender explained. “There (are) a lot of electronics today.”

The world of the automotive industry is not so simple.

Technology has increased in the vehicles, so students must know what each piece of equipment does for each different obstacle they face.

Bender said, “It’s not easy anymore. You can’t just work on your car anymore.”

He added that the program offers dedicated apprenticeship programs, individual classes and instruction in auto body services that focus on collision repair, which also functions as a service to the community.

You name it, we cover almost every aspect of the automobile and repairing of the automobile from engines to transmissions.”

— Jon Bender

The automotive program is still working to provide its students services such as advisers, parts personal and heavy fleet.

Bender and the automotive program hope to have these programs in their curriculum sometime next year.

Students interested in the craft of automobiles can go to the automotive department’s website ( or go to the alphabetical index in the Cerritos College website and scroll down to auto-mechanical or auto body.

According to Bender, Cerritos College is well known for its automotive program compared to other community colleges in southern California.

The Southland Car Dealer Association and the partnered building adjacent to it have helped the program tremendously.

“We basically have all the major manufactural appeprntorship programs with General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler,” Bender said.

From time to time, new cars are donated to the program from major manufacturers. The old ones are disposed of, and the new ones are mainly used in the appeprntorship programs to work on.

“It just depends,” Bender said, “We don’t know what’s coming exactly; we are always looking for donations, but most of the time donations are coming from our sponsors from (the) GM, Ford and Chrysler programs.”

Although the donated cars are used mostly for the apprenticeship programs, from time to time, Auto 100 class or engines class will use them for demonstration.