Southwest and T-CAT Memphis presidents announce partnership to enhance local automotive education and training

President Tracy D. Hall debuts $175,000 in new automotive training equipment that elevates Southwest’s curriculum to state-of-the-art

Southwest Tennessee Community College President Tracy D. Hall and Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis (TCAT-Memphis) President Roland Rayner proudly announced last month a groundbreaking partnership between their respective institutions that makes advanced training in automotive technology more accessible, affordable and effective than ever before.

Roland Rayner, President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis, and Dr. Tracy D. Hall, President of Southwest Tennessee Community College, sign an articulation agreement that enables TCAT-Memphis students to matriculate to Southwest where they can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology faster and possibly tuition-free with Tennessee Reconnect scholarships. The colleges have agreements in the pipeline that will enable TCAT-Memphis students to transfer credit to Southwest to earn advanced credentials in computer science and nursing.

Roland Rayner, President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis, and Dr. Tracy D. Hall, President of Southwest Tennessee Community College, sign an articulation agreement that enables TCAT-Memphis students to matriculate to Southwest where they can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology faster and possibly tuition-free with Tennessee Reconnect scholarships. The colleges have agreements in the pipeline that will enable TCAT-Memphis students to transfer credit to Southwest to earn advanced credentials in computer science and nursing.

“This partnership represents a shift in our approach to workforce development and education in the Mid-South,” President Hall said of the articulation agreement between Southwest and TCAT-Memphis that now enables students who earn a TCAT-Memphis automotive certificate or diploma to matriculate to Southwest more easily and affordably to attain advanced credentials in automotive technology.  “We are not competitors, but partners in the quest to empower residents with credentials that lead to a better job, career and quality of life,” Hall added.

The articulation agreement, now in effect, allows TCAT-Memphis automotive technology graduates to transfer up to 28 TCAT-Memphis credits to Southwest, enabling them to earn an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Automotive Technology degree in as quickly as two semesters.

TCAT-Memphis President Roland Rayner says the agreement is a win for students and his institution. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Southwest,” he said. “Our students’ investment in their training at TCAT-Memphis can be applied toward an advanced degree that will empower them to better compete for jobs at high-volume automotive shops and for leadership opportunities,” he said.  “We offer excellent training at TCAT-Memphis and now this partnership will allow our students to continue on a fantastic career pathway.”

Southwest / TCAT-Memphis partnership

The automotive program at Southwest is on the move, nearly tripling the number of completers from 5 to 19 between 2016 and 2017.  “The Southwest program has the ability to graduate up to 50 students a year,” Southwest Vice President for Academic Affairs Chris Ezell said. “Our students also are eligible to apply for Tennessee Reconnect scholarships, which means a degree, tuition-free. It’s a win-win for local students and employers.”

The articulation agreement is just one of more to come. A computer technology agreement will activate in the spring and one for the nursing program next fall.

New equipment

Southwest Tennessee Community College recently invested $175,000 to outfit its Automotive Technology lab at the Macon Cove campus with equipment that rivals high-volume shop equipment. The College purchased 7 brand new cars and a state-of-the-art alignment machine that, according to Business and Technology Dean Robin Cole, can align vehicles built as far back as 1948 through 2019.  “This machine is what our students will use when they get jobs as automotive technicians at dealerships and other high-volume outfits.  It’s the same technology,” he said.

The new, late-model vehicles include a hybrid car, one flex fuel car, one hybrid pick-up truck and a Camaro with a turbo charge system (to train students on high performance fuel injection).  “Each vehicle was chosen to address a specific training focus to ensure our students are equipped with the skills dealership shops and other employers seek,” Cole said.  “We also upgraded our wireless engine analyzer to address auto technology through 2020.”