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You Auto Learn About the Automotive Program

You Auto Learn About the Automotive Program

History of the Automotive Department by Rob Holm 

By Summer Boulais  

Rob Holm has been working for Walla Walla University’s automotive department for 18 years. He is currently the assistant professor of automotive technology, and his favorite part of teaching is “without question, the interactions with and relationships built with the students.” [1] 

Holm graduated in 1996 and went on to work for BMW of Bellevue as a diagnostic technician. Later, in 2000, he became an aircraft mechanic for Blue Ridge Aircraft. He began working for the automotive department in 2003 when the professor he used to study under retired. The path that led to him becoming a professor at WWU involved “doors opening up,” says Holm. [2]  

Since being hired by WWU, Holm has been in charge of the automotive department. In 2006, he earned his master’s degree in technology from Purdue University in Indiana. [3] 

This photo from 1981 shows people in the automotive department smiling. Photo by Eric Jansen.  

The automotive department has been a part of WWU since the 1950s. It used to be located in the industrial arts building between the Sabbath school wing and the men’s dorm. University Auto, the on-campus auto shop, was constructed in the late ‘70s with volunteer labor. [4] 

It was built specifically for students participating in the automotive program. The shop was designed to provide both auto service and serve as an automotive training facility. [5] University Auto is currently managed by upperclassmen who do repairs and maintenance.  

Automotive majors typically work between 10 to 20 hours a week at the shop. Holm worked there himself when he was a student at WWU. The shop continues to run in the summertime, though Holm does not teach summer classes.  

The automotive technology program at WWU combines classroom instruction with hands-on practice to prepare students for their careers. Students interested in this career path can major in automotive technology or automotive management, or minor in automotive technology. [6] Access to the automotive lab is unrestricted for students in the automotive program with scheduled use.  

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WWU is one of 15 schools that offers a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology or automotive management in the U.S., with graduates having a 100% placement rate for various companies and careers. [7] Internships are offered in the summer, and the professors can help students make connections in the automotive business.  

Here is Randle Lambert and Donald Dawes working on a car in the automotive department. Photo by WWU Archives.

According to Holm, students often find internships on their own. Employees are typically hired for year-round jobs in the automotive industry, so department faculty can help students make connections for internships or careers once they graduate. “A diverse group of students from all over the country come to WWU for the automotive program then spread out once they have graduated,” says Holm. [8]   

According to Holm, in his 18 years of teaching at WWU, this was the first time someone had come to talk to him about the automotive department with the intention of writing about it. [9] The automotive technology program and University Auto are amazing parts of WWU that deserve to be highlighted, and long-term department heads like Holm are heroes for their investments of time and effort into the program and its students.  

References  

  1. Interview with Rob Holm, 5/13/2021.  
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Walla Walla University, (2021). Automotive, Department of Technology. https://bit.ly/3bpRDJG.  
  1. Interview with Rob Holm, 5/13/2021.  
  1. Walla Walla University, (2021). Automotive, Department of Technology. https://bit.ly/3bpRDJG.  
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Rob Holm, 5/13/2021.  
  1. Ibid.  
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