Auto tech students receive Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship

Automotive technology majors Andrew Hutchins, 20, and Anthony Sardegna, 21, were chosen and recognized as outstanding students in the school’s technical program. (Courtesy of Cliff Meyer)

Sarah Black

Two students were awarded $2,000 each for the 2010 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship. Upon graduation, each will also receive a Westword toolkit.

Saddleback College students and automotive technology majors Andrew Hutchins, 20, and Anthony Sardegna, 21, were chosen and recognized as outstanding students in the school’s technical program.

“Originally it was supposed to be quite a few people to apply,” said Hutchins. “I was the only person to apply, and I got my check.”

The $2,000 should be enough to get him started.

“The scholarship was mainly meant for me to buy tools and materials to enter the workforce,” Hutchins said.

“It’s a good way to start.”

Automotive technology classes have definitely helped him, Hutchins said. “Pretty much, it’s what don’t we do in the class. Within the industry we cover everything.”

Hutchins said that he is currently working as an alignment technician, which he said involves “making sure your car goes straight on the road.”

What started as a hobby he now hopes will lead him into a career working at a specialty shop that works with racing teams.

“Our students are employed at a variety of automotive industry facilities throughout Orange County,” said instructor Clifford Meyer.

The program partners with chain specialty shops, high performance automotive repair and installation shops, new car dealerships and other automotive-related facilities.

“Our automotive technology students benefit from a program that is known throughout the region for providing a top-notch education,” said Don Taylor, dean of Advanced Technology and Applied Science. “We are all proud of [Hutchins and Sardegna].”

Taylor credits the automotive technology faculty for the program.

Both Hutchins and Sardegna have been received scholarships from the Orange County Automotive Dealers Association (OCADA), who is a sponsor of the automotive technology program and are part of the Saddleback College Automotive Technology Advisory Committee.

The Grainger scholarship required students to write an essay about why they chose to study technical education. Applicants must at least a 3.0 GPA and be entering his or her second year in electronic systems, HVAC, plumbing, welding, automotive, construction, or other industrial trade.

Saddleback has been part of the Grainger scholarship program for two years.

“I am glad that they are being recognized for their hard work,” Meyer said.

“[Hutchins and Sardegna] do excellent,” Meyer said. “[They are] always on time and motivated with a willingness to work.”

Saddleback’s automotive technology program offers students a variety of entry-level training for automotive positions along with cooperative work experience and job placements.

The program offers four certificate programs and an associate degree program. The automotive technology program is a certified California Bureau of Automotive Repair training center.

Currently the program has about 400 students enrolled. 25 students are also working for the Tuttle Click Automotive Group dealerships in Orange County, which also offers scholarships to automotive technology students.