An interview with James DeAngelis, CCBC’s Comprehensive automotive programs coordinator (Part 2)

A continuation from Part 1 of my interview with CCBC's Comprehensive Automotive Program Coordinator, James DeAngelis.

What got you passionate about cars?
I’ve had a passion for anything that goes since I was little. Aircraft, ships, tanks, you name it. But cars were the most accessible, so they’re what I’ve developed the most attachment to.

Tell me the worst mistake you every made when working on a car?
Wow, I really don’t know… there have been one or two doozies.  The worst occurred when I was still rather young, 14, and working on an old truck my father had bought for us to work on together. Not really knowing what I was doing, I attempted to rebuild the carburetor one summer afternoon. After reinstalling it and attempting to start the truck, the engine caught fire… right in our carport! I obviously had gotten something very wrong that day! Of course, that only fueled my curiosity and “need to know”.

What’s the biggest mistake you made when teaching a class?
Hmm… this answer could go one of several ways… If you’re asking about a technical flub, I’ve had my share of small ones, but nothing major. If you are asking about classroom management, then I would say my tendency to travel down “bunny trails” allows me to get significantly off-track occasionally.

What suggestions or advice do you have for someone considering taking automotive classes?
Reflect on what you want out of the classes, first. These classes are not for the casual student. Given the 8 week condensed schedule, the pace is very fast, the work load is heavy, and there is an extraordinary amount of information to process and retain. If working on cars and light trucks is your passion, then you will excel in these classes with little effort. We want the students that really want to learn, to be part of this industry. If you don’t think this is the path you want to take in your life, then we want you to follow your heart, and do what you love. We’re not worried about recruiting… we want the students to find their best fit, so they can excel.

If I don’t have a clue when it comes to cars but really want to learn and become a technician, is CCBC’s program for me?
I would say no, not just yet. Our programs are designed to continue the education and training of students with some basic knowledge. If the technical knowledge gained from some periodicals and television shows is enough to whet your appetite for serious automotive training, then our programs might be for you.

What would you say if someone is unsure if an automotive career is for them? Are the classes a good place to find out whether an automotive career is a good path?
Possibly. I’m asked this question often, and its one of the most difficult for me to answer. First, I tell all prospective students to think about what they really want out of life. Think about what they have a passion for, what drives them. If the answer is automobiles, then this may be a good place to start.

Is there anything you wish the college would do differently with the automotive programs?
There’s always room for improvement in anything. One of the great things about the college is their willingness to look at any proposal to improve the quality of instruction. Our department chair is very open to any suggestion the instructors have about improvements to the programs. As a department, we constantly evaluate new methods, approaches, tools and equipment that may offer any advantage to us or the students.

How could teachers, administrators, and students make your job easier?
Oh, what a dubious question… Short of a sudden development of Utopia, where nothing goes wrong and everyone does more than is expected, I don’t think there is much that could or should be done drastically differently. Teachers instruct, administrators manage, and students learn. As long as each of these persons do these to the best of their abilities, I’m a happy camper.

With some of the newer car technology coming out, like electric cars, how do you and the program coordinators plan to handle the coming changes in technology?
We constantly work with the industry and other schools, thru initiatives like the Alternate Fuel Foundation, to ensure we have the most current information and applicable technology. We are one of the first locations, within Maryland, to have recharging stations capable of accommodating the newest electric vehicles from GM, Nissan, Th!nk and others. We incorporated hybrid vehicle training into our curriculum as the technology became available to us. We had been one of a few east coast training sites for CNG and LPG vehicles. Basically, as the technology matures from the research stage to retail, we position ourselves to incorporate the most relative training, as quickly as possible.

If someone is interested in more information or signing up for classes, who should they contact?
I am the point of contact for the Comprehensive and Collision Repair programs, and can be reached at or 443-840-5982
Tony Prescott is the point of contact for the Ford ASSET program, and can be reached at or 443-840-
Jack Davis is the point of contact for the GM ASEP program, and can be reached at or 443-840-
George Pattee is the point of contact for the Toyota T-TEN program, and can be reached at or 443-840-
Bob Lupini is the point of contact for the Diesel Equipment program, and can be reached at or 443-840-
If you’re not sure what program you might be interested in, contact Anita Burton at or 443-840- , and she help direct you to the correct person.

Where do you see CCBC’s automotive program in the next 5 years, 10 years, and beyond that?
I try not to box myself in with finite visions of what could or should be. The automotive industry is on the cusp of some significant changes, as is the world’s ability to supply energy. Not being fully sure what direction the industry will head, all I can say is that CCBC will respond to the industry’s, community’s and students’ needs as quickly and competently as possible.

What’s your “Dream Car?”
Oh, wow… too many to list!! As a tried-and-true car guy, I don’t have just one!!
From a classic performance standpoint, a DeTomaso Pantera GTS, Ford GT, FIA 289 Cobra.
Uniquness; Renault R5 Turbo, Ford Festiva SHOGUN, Kaiser Darrin, Crosley Hot Shot, a first-year Avanti, 1963 Chrysler turbine car.
Historic significance; A Hupmobile, Duryea, Detroit Electric, maybe a 30’s Franklin or Pierce Arrow, a 30’s Packard, and definitely a Ford 1903 model A.
Racing vehicles; any Chapparell, a 60’s Gurney-Eagle Indy car, the Howmett Turbine car.
Now, what I can actually obtain? I have my first car love right now; a 1964 ½ Ford Mustang coupe that I restored myself. I’m an active participant in the Mustang Club of Maryland, and enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow Mustang enthusiasts.

What Vehicles do you own?
1990 and 93 Ford Festiva
64 1.2 Mustang Coupe Restored (Power Steering, 4 wheel drum factory, 260 V-8)
67 Mustang Convertible (needs restoration)
69 Falcon Sport Coupe
69 Ford LTD Coupe
88 Mazda 323 (daily driver)

2000 Yamaha V-Star 1100 (rode across the country)
1980 Yamaha XS 650 (restoration almost complete)
1983 Yamaha XS 650 (needs restoration)


Ok, seriously what’s the deal with the Festivas? How did this start? Everyone wants to know!

I was commuting 75 miles, 1 way. I needed a fuel efficient car, to keep my good car (04 mustang) from racking up mileage. I found an 88 Festiva for Free under an Oak Tree, almost ready to go to the junkyard. It was Terry Wolfe’s sister in laws car for 8 years, it had running issues and she wanted a new vehicle. My motto is “If it’s for Free it’s for Me” I drove this sad little car home. Went over car front to back, repaired the problem with the carburetor. Started up ran like a top, even on 4-year old gas! Started driving it and realized it was street legal go-cart! It was plan fun to drive, and it has a certain charm and attraction. Not everyone appreciates it.  A motorcycle saying: “It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast, then it its ride a fast bike slow.”


You can visit for more information on registering and signing up for classes at the college.

An interview with James DeAngelis, CCBC’s Comprehensive Automotive Programs Coordinator (Part 1)

If you are someone who has considered an automotive career in the greater Baltimore area, go see James DeAngelis III. Why? He runs the Comprehensive Automotive Programs at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) – a very important job.  The programs at CCBC are responsible for teaching the automotive technicians of tomorrow.  Not only does Mr. DeAngelis run the comprehensive automotive programs, which have day and night classes, he also teaches courses himself.

Many of the students in the automotive programs are likely to be working on your cars someday. So you have to have a lot of respect for the quality teaching of Mr. DeAngelis and the staff at the college.  He is clear and thorough and somehow easily keeps students interested in the material for classes that last all day.  Maybe it’s his great expertise, his wit, and his humor. Maybe it’s the captivating stories he tells.

DeAngelis is a man with many surprising interests and talents.  On a given day in his spare time you might see him collecting old computer equipment (like floppy disks!), working on his own vintage game for an emulator, tinkering with one of his many bikes or vehicles, searching for Atari cartridges to add to his vast collection, or watching the latest Top Gear. He might even be writing a business plan and proposal for his quick lube and auto repair shop.

His enthusiasm for his job can only be matched by his enthusiasm for Ford Festivas.  Not only does he own two Festivas, he loves actively posting on and meeting with others who enjoy these cars as much as he does. If asked about the Festiva fanaticism he will tell you straight and serious, “It's the greatest car ever made! I used to own seven.”

For more information on this creative and dedicated individual, his background and what he does, here’s my in-depth interview:


State your name and job title?
James (Jim) DeAngelis, Comprehensive Automotive and Collision Repair Programs Coordinator, Comprehensive Auto instructor

How long have you been at CCBC?
Well, I came to the college from Ford Motor Company, having been a Service Training Instructor in the Mid-Atlantic region starting 1999. In that position, I taught new technology and products to dealer technicians. As a college instructor, I’ve been here since December of 2005. However, I did graduate from the Ford ASSET automotive program in 1996, offered here at the Catonsville campus.

How long have you been teaching at the college?
I applied and was hired as a full time instructor in the fall of 2005.
Prior to that, I was invited to instruct the Ford ASSET classes on Diesel Engine Performance once a year, for several years.

How did you get started working for the college?
Well now, that’s a long a story… As a student here, one of my instructors (Jack Davis) made mention that he had been observing my interaction with fellow students, and felt that I may do well as an instructor. I took that nugget of advice with me. That influenced my choice to pursue the position at Ford Motor Company. In the summer of 2005, while having a conversation with CCBC’s Auto Department coordinator about my upcoming guest presentation at the college, I was informed that one of my former mentors was retiring, and was asked if I would be interested in applying for his position. I jumped at the chance to return to the college as an instructor, having many great memories about my time as a student here.

Tell me about CCBC’s various automotive programs?
CCBC offers several different programs, to meet the needs of both the student body and area businesses.  Ford, GM and Toyota, sponsor what is referred to as the Industry Specific programs. These programs were developed in conjunction with manufacturers, with the goal of producing career minded service technicians, for each of those brands. These students complete a two-year, AAS degree in Automotive Technology.  If one of these manufactures does not interest the student, they can enroll in the Comprehensive Automotive Technology program. The Comprehensive program discusses all brands of vehicles. In this program, the students can also obtain an AAS, or they can earn one of several certificates. The certificates include all the same automotive classes, but exclude the academic classes that are part of the degree.

What advantages does CCBC have over a private vocational school? Schools such as WyoTech or LincolnTech.
Community colleges can offer certain advantages over any for-profit school. The primary advantage is cost. A community college is partially funded by the community’s taxes, so tuition costs are typically significantly less than that of a private, for-profit technical school. CCBC also enjoys direct support of its automotive programs by both the three mentioned manufacturers, and area dealers. This gives us a greater opportunity to help students attain employment within the local industry.

What disadvantages does CCBC have over these schools?
Well, since we are the mercy of our local and state governments’ budget constraints, our facilities are not quite as glossy and grand as some of the for-profit institutions.

What’s the difference between getting an Automotive Certificate and Degree?
The Automotive Certificate option permits the student to complete various levels of automotive training, while the degree adds to that a greater depth of development, in the form of academic classes, taken in conjunction with the automotive training.

How do you and the college choose teachers for classes?
We put a bunch of names in jar, and have a former circus chimp grab one at random. It keeps things fresh. Seriously, though; Full time faculty is selected by committee, after the candidates have submitted written resumes and interviewed with a panel of faculty from both the Automotive department, and other areas of the college. Adjunct, or part-time faculty, are selected somewhat differently. These persons are individually selected by the full time faculty for their expertise and ability to relate directly with the students.

Do you like your job?
I count myself as one of the lucky few folks in the world that absolutely loves what they do.

Do you like teaching?
Being with the students is my favorite part of my job. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than interacting with the students in the classroom and lab.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
As a technically and hands-on oriented person, I find the administrative aspect of my job the least enjoyable, which makes it somewhat of challenge.

Do you like the students?
The students are why I love my job. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with anyone wanting to learn.

What about annoying ones that want to do interviews? 🙂
Those can be a bit of a challenge, on occasion.

*Click to read Part 2 of the interview