With the economy being what it is, with record numbers of unemployed at this time, many people (and you may be one of them) are now thinking about retraining for another career. With the number of unemployed topping 8.5 million for the month of June ’08, there are plenty of people looking for work. According to U.S. Bureau of Transit statistics for 2006, there are approximately 251-million registered cars in the United States. At some point, every single one of these cars will need to be serviced or worked on.

Add up these two situations and the Universal Technical Institute might be just the ticket for you. With eight locations all over the country, “there’s a lot to like about UTI no matter where you go.” You can get training in auto/diesel/collision, motorcycle, and marine, as well become a NASCAR tech.

We attended an afternoon open house at the UTI campus in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and we got the grand tour. The school is quite impressive with a number of bays dedicated to manufacturer-specific training. John Quile, a lowrider enthusiast and one of the instructors at this location, showed us around the campus. There are classrooms on the ground floor for specific parts of the car, as well as an engine room where students learn how to build engines from top to bottom. There are transmission and transaxle rooms, and an actual transmission dyno to check if a unit is working properly. Upstairs on the second floor, along what seems like a mile-long hallway, are more classrooms and offices.

Potential students are greeted and given an introduction to the curriculum of the school in the auditorium. They are then given a tour of the facility. On the day of our visit, there was a car show outside in the parking lot featuring vehicles belonging to instructors and students. Included in the array of cars were two lowriders owned by Pete Mata and John Quile, both lowrider enthusiasts and instructors at the school. The carnival-like atmosphere had jumpers for the kids, along with hotdogs and drinks for everyone. There was even a sparkplug-changing contest and prizes for the winners.

In the end, you can learn every aspect of automotive servicing from engine diagnostics to transmission servicing to electrical. They also have manufacturer-specific training so you can become a certified technician for many of the top automotive manufacturers. Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, just to name a few, turn to UTI for top grads to fill positions at dealerships here and abroad. The open house gave everyone who attended a great overview of what’s happening there and the process impressed us with the breadth and dedication of the instructors.