Automotive educators explore latest technology, teaching methods

San Jacinto College recently hosted the North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) annual conference, attracting automotive technology educators from America, Canada, Australia and several European nations.

The weeklong conference featured 144 sessions that covered teaching methods designed to train students to perform virtually every type of automotive diagnostics and repair work, changing tires, electronic trouble shooting, working on brakes, transmissions, hydraulics, exhaust systems, etc.

Educators at the conference learned about emerging technology in the automotive industry. Incorporated in 1977, NACAT provides resources for improving automotive education among high schools, colleges and technical schools.

Presenter Jack Rosebro, a veteran automotive educator and author from Los Angeles, talked about autonomous, or self-driving vehicle technology. His presentation chronicled the evolution of self-driving cars from their early beginnings up to the recent ramp-up in development, including the development of Google’s Self-Driving Car. All major vehicle manufacturers are working on self-driving cars or commercial vehicles, with 2020 being the most common target date for Level 4 (fully autonomous) self-driving car commercialization. The presentation covered 360-degree 3-D camera imaging, software, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, cloud-based data and other developments that indicate deep shifts within the automotive industry.

Longtime Canadian automotive educator Alan Nagel talked about new developments in electric vehicle technology, with a focus on the Chevrolet Volt, an extended range electric/hybrid vehicle that runs on an electric charge and generates additional energy through a gas-powered generator when the battery runs out. GM made significant improvements from the first Volt model, introduced in 2011, to the newest 2016 “Gen 2” model. Thanks to innovations in battery technology and other developments, the Gen 2 Volt has a greater all-electric range, improved gas mileage, more seating capacity and cargo space, a lighter weight, quieter ride and improved acceleration. Nagel also talked about the Chevrolet Bolt, a new all-electric vehicle that will be available in late 2016. A highlight of the Bolt will be new battery technology that extends the range to over 200 miles between charges.

San Jacinto College automotive technology instructors attended the conference, benefitting from expertise shared by industry experts. “Our automotive technology instructors are all skilled, veteran educators who also have plenty of experience in the industry,” commented Jeffrey Parks, San Jacinto College Central Campus dean of business and technology. “Yet, it greatly benefits our students for our instructors to attend such a prestigious event like the NACAT conference so the instructors can keep up with the latest trends and developments in the ever-changing automotive field, and pass along their knowledge to our students.”

At the conference’s concluding ceremony, San Jacinto College automotive technology student Cesar Hernandez received a $1,000 scholarship based on his performance in the College’s GM training program. Hernandez is on track to earn an automotive technology associate degree from San Jacinto College next spring, with plans to transfer to Texas A&M University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Hernandez enjoys automotive technology because it requires both mental and manual skills. “I love anything mechanical,” he commented. “Working on cars is not a walk in the park. It is not only challenging, it also requires a lot of intuition.”

San Jacinto College offers automotive technology courses and degree plans at the Central Campus transportation center. To learn more, please visit

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

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