Remembering 9/11 Ten Years Later

Today is the ten year anniversary of 9/11.  I can't believe it's been this long.  A decade is amazing.  I think the country changed profoundly on 9/11 and it's something for those of us that were alive will never forget.

I recall I was in school on 9/11 in the library. One of the teachers heard the news and turned on the TV, which showed the images of the Twin Towers burning.  I remember how shocking it was.  My young mind never really thought that those burning towers were an important historical event.  It also did not occur to me that the images I saw meant that a significant amount of people were dead.  I remember leaving the library and asking other students if they had heard the news.  To my surprise most that hadn't, because a majority of the classrooms did not have TV's.  I was probably one of the few students at my school who was actually watching what had happened.  Some had heard but were not aware of the enormity of the event and were not concerned.  A picture is worth a thousands words.

Thank You to all those Firefighters, Police Officers, and other service members wherever you are.  You jobs are difficult and sometimes thankless.  We all appreciate what you do everyday.

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

Sears Student Discounts

Sears has a brand new program offering 20% Off Automotive Tools and Tool Sets for students in Vocational and Technical school.  All you have to do is show a valid student ID and they will give you the discount.  The 20% off discount can even be used on specialty tools, such as multimeters, OBD scanners, brake tools, etc.  However I spoke with a Craftsman Representative about the program and 20% off will vary by store and location.  Also the discount will only apply to regularly priced merchandise.  It would be best to call and ask your local Sears store what tools they will give you under the program.  Under the program you can also get 5% off sockets, wrenches, or auto specialty tools that are on sale.  You can also get 10% any Craftsman branded tools and items that are regularly priced, including shelves, tool chests, power tools, air tools, etc.  I'm sure students will find these discounts helpful.  I called the Sears store I usually visit (Hunt Valley) and confirmed they are running the discount.  It's also right on the Sears website. Be aware the discounts are only good until March 31st, 2011.