DANVILLE — Preparing students for college always has been important at Danville High School. Career readiness is even as important.
One of the areas the school district is supporting in Career and Technical Education is in the automotive area.
Dan Hile, DHS Career and Technical Education department chairman, said as they were the first department to bring students back during the COVID-19 years, the school got the students bags with their own personal gloves, helmet, mask, glasses and other items.
In the automotive area, for example, Hile said “we’re trying to provide as many real-world, hands-on experiences.”
One item the school district purchased is a tire system, for tire mounting and balancing.
“It’s industry-grade stuff,” Hile said.
DHS has an automotive program where students can take an intro class and rotate around and can also take intermediate and advanced courses.
The students don’t do body work, but they can work on tires, brakes and do other work on cars.
“It’s a chance for kids to work on (vehicles),” Hile said.
Clint Rebman is an industrial technology teacher at DHS who specializes in automotive technology and Project Lead the Way pre-engineering courses Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering.
Rebman also has students as part of an Introduction to Careers class. They spend a quarter with him in automotive, a quarter doing computer drafting, a quarter welding and a quarter in wood shop.
“It’s mostly freshmen. They get a taste of everything we have to offer in career and tech ed. The beautiful thing is if they don’t like one, they’re onto the next one,” Rebman said. “It’s all about trying on different hats and seeing what you like and see what you don’t like.”
His two laboratories have been vastly improved by the recent D118 CTE investments.
Rebman said they received new equipment for the Principles in Engineering class this year, lots of new robotics.
One is a hydrogen-powered car that the students made, and they had races with them.
“They really enjoyed that,” Rebman said.
“There’s a lot of problem solving alone the way, which is a part of the process. And when they have a problem, it’s in a way it’s a positive because they have to overcome that problem, try different solutions and see what works, which is really the true engineering experience in that regard,” Rebman said.
Another class recently finished putting together engines they’d been working on. They were putting on the final touches before holiday break.
“My goal is to teach them how to professionally disassemble and reassemble a gasoline engine, which they’ve done very well with,” Rebman said.
The students also focus on basics of electricity with vehicles. Teaching electrical principals is important with automobiles becoming more electronic every day, he added.
He also said that these are job skills the students can make money with.
The classes have females and males.
“A lot of times my females are the strongest students sometimes. It’s always impressive to me. I really enjoy having a mix in the class,” Rebman said.
He said someone could be surprised to see the female students turning wrenches and showing the boys how it’s done.
Rebman told the students the skills they’re learning with the engines, computer aided drafting, wood shop and welding, they can earn a living doing.
The students went to the tool closet in the automotive area to get their tools out and used wrenches to work on engines recently.
The students worked near two new pieces of equipment of a tire balancer and tire mount/dismount.
The automotive class will be taking tires off and on the rims properly, learning how to patch them properly and how to balance the tires.
“It’s a beautiful new machine. It’s way nicer than the one I was trained on initially,” Rebman said.
Students will be using the new machines when they get back from break, first thing in January.
The tire balancer is color-coded with different weights, and really high tech.
“We’re really thrilled to get using it,” Rebman said.
That equipment and the robotics kits are the newest additions for students. DHS received the vehicle lift a couple years ago.
“This is the Ferrari of mounters and balancers,” Rebman said of DHS equipment. “This is really nice.”
In the automotive course, the first semester they focus on working under the hood, including the parts of an engine, the charging, cooling, ignition and fuel delivery systems. The second semester is focused on everything else, following the powertrain. That includes the transmission, suspension, steering, braking and wheels.
Students Ericha Redmon, a sophomore, and Nathan Gray, freshman, said they’ve enjoyed the intro to careers class and learning about engines.
Ericha said she had some experience working on cars in helping her dad. Her dad works at Masterguard.
“It’s interesting to me because you can learn a lot about an engine and that type of stuff,” she said.
Nathan said the class could help him for a future career. He said he’s mostly liked being in the automotive area.