Local Professionals Return to Classroom


Students participating in the recent program pose in one of the university’s workshops along with software used in the course.

If you would have told Emery County’s Lacey Branson a month ago that she would soon adjust the alignment on her truck, she would have called you crazy.

Well, she just adjusted it.

Branson, along with a number of other classmates, recently completed a special kind of course, tailored to herself and others in it. The class, offered through USU Eastern, recently spanned nearly 16 hours spread out over four days and two weeks.

The concept behind the class, and similar ones offered, is to help those working in the community develop skills needed in their respective jobs. Thus, when local automotive shops Grako’s Tire Pros and Les Schwab Tire Center approached the university’s Center of Workforce Development about hosting a class centered around vehicle alignment, the course rolled forward, pun intended.

The classes were taught by Todd Richardson as well as Stan Martineau, who also served as the team leader and the Automotive Department Chair for USU Eastern.

“If we can offer the training, we do it,” Martineau said. “We want to be the place to help you improve your skills.”

Martineau spoke of a dramatic difference in pre-test scores at the start of the class and post-test scores at the end, used to measure student improvement. Pre-test scores measured 30% while post-tests boasted scores of 90%.

“In other words, they understand a lot more than they did when they started,” Martineau said.

Branson, who deals more with customers than cars in one of Price’s local automotive shops, started with a basic knowledge and was amazed at the difference she noticed after one class, feeling more confident in her job and feeling better qualified and able to help customers, one of the driving reasons behind her enrolling.

“It made no sense for me not to come,” she said.

Classmate Jorge Lascano came from a different background, which included work experience at a local automotive shop. Lascano braved the four-day long course, coming in after full days of work all the while trying to stay focused on the course material.

The student expressed gratitude for the chance to participate in the course, stating how it has helped reinforce his knowledge of the subject.

“It’s reassuring me and reteaching me things that I had before,” he said.

Those in the community interested in such an opportunity to further their learning in the automotive sphere are encouraged to contact Connie Dyreng with the university’s Center for Workforce Development at (435) 613-5440.

Dyreng is able to inform those interested about classes and also contact Martineau and Richardson about possibly starting one.

“If we catch wind that there’s auto shops out there who want to have a class, we’re happy to facilitate the training and offer it to the entire community,” Dyreng said.

She further explained the ease of learning about classes online. When a course is being offered, she will email those auto shops that she has email addresses for and send them an online flyer. They can then email her directly to get registered for the training. If they are not currently receiving emails, they can contact her at the center and she will add their contact information to her list.

For Branson and Lascano, the chance at becoming even better at their craft means something more than 16 hours spent back in the classroom. It can also mean a chance to help their business in a small-town environment.

“We don’t have that luxury of not being good,” Branson said, explaining how Price varies with other areas in the number of automotive shops and feeling the pressure of making sure her work put forth is of highest quality. “Just because it’s Price, Utah, doesn’t mean anything.”

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