Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC automotive students community-minded

10/01/2019 - 11am
Car Care at Kairis Day

Southwestern Michigan College Auto Technology’s Car Care at Kairis Day on Sept. 26 quickly filled all 18 slots available for oil changes, tire rotations and general inspections.

Instructor Kyle Schrock involved two introductory automotive classes, with some second-years volunteering to help provide a learning opportunity to students, a benefit to employees and fundraising to help others needing car repairs. “It was very beneficial for my students to gain real-world experience on a variety of different vehicles. The money raised will be put to good use helping others,” Schrock wrote in a thank-you email to participants.

Donations were applied to SMC’s Auto Club, which marks its first anniversary in October.
SMC has always encouraged faculty, staff and students to bring vehicles to be fixed.
There is no charge for labor. Owners buy their own parts — oil in this case.

“We are already scheduling another for November, the week before Thanksgiving,” Schrock said. “Students and employees travelling out of town will have a convenient place to get their oil changed before they go. I’m sure that one will fill up as fast as this one did. We had 10 to 12 students working in groups of three to four, so service was quick.”

Tires were rotated and oil changed

With previous donations received, Auto Club has been able to help a couple of students who couldn’t afford vehicle repairs, including a nursing student who needed her car to travel to local hospitals to complete her clinical rotations prior to graduating with an RN.

“We used to ask for doughnuts or pizza for working on cars. Now we ask for cash,” Schrock said. “Helping that one nursing student complete her degree will in turn help hundreds of people in the future get the health care they need. The goal of Auto Club when it started was to create a community, whether it was working on a project or working on each other’s cars. Community is still the goal, and to help students who can’t afford car repairs. We meet every other Wednesday.

“We also have a partnership with a St. Joseph cars ministry,” he said. “Cars are donated or they buy them cheap and fix them. It’s another way for our students to help out the community.”

As a club project, Schrock wants to build a Road Runner, the Plymouth muscle car. The Roadrunner became SMC’s mascot in the same year, 1968, when automotive students had a big turnout in the campus vote.