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Automotive Tech at Chattahoochee High School

Schematic of a 1999 Dodge Viper. Image courtesy of Jeff Shmanske and
Schematic of a 1999 Dodge Viper. Image courtesy of Jeff Shmanske and

Growing up in the Fulton County school system, I had the opportunity to take a myriad of AP classes and join a number of afterschool activities, including band, orchestra, and varsity swimming. However, whenever I visited a particular rival high school, I was always envious that they had something my school did not - an automotive technical services program, or "auto shop".

At Chattahoochee High School, students can take classes within CHS's automotive technical services program. I interviewed Jeff Shmanske, who teaches the courses within CHS's Automotive Service Technology program. You can listen to the interview in the podcast player below, titled "Passion for Learning Feature".

As Jeff was describing the program to me, he explained that the automotive service technology courses serve as a career pathway - "one of at least 25 different pathways that students can participate in as they are earning a high school diploma." While Jeff provides the structure and the lesson plans, he notes that the program is, for the most part, student run: "the kids are in charge of the book keeping, inventory, and communicating with the 'customers'."

I asked Jeff if there were any prerequisites to joining the automotive classes, and he said that the only "prerequisite" is an interest in cars. He mentioned that the program accepts students at any grade level: "Students start at the foundation level and learn their way up. All students - freshmen to seniors - are welcome to take the class."

Jeff stated that Chattahoochee High School uses the same equipment that many local auto stores use. He relayed a story about one particular student who went into a local repair shop to inquire about employment. The student said that the manager's face lit up when the student mentioned his experiences with CHS's auto course, and that the manager felt that the student was well prepared to work in the shop.

Jeff also explained how the automotive courses fit well into the STEM initiative. Since many of the students are learning about cars' electrical and mechanical systems, they have to use the principals of electromagnetism, physics, and geometry in a very precise manner. The students also learn skills necessary in order to perform battery services (including battery jump starting), brake fluid services, hybrid basics, general engine diagnosis, alternative fuel mechanics, and fuel cell mechanics. According to Jeff, career prospects for students enrolled in the automotive courses include the automotive shops, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

To find out more information about Chattahoochee High Schools' automotive technical services classes, be sure to check out