Recently, Walla Walla University’s automotive program was voted best in the Northwest as part of the top 40 best auto mechanic schools across the country, according to independent college ranking agency Intelligent.com. Their scoring system evaluated tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and online student resources. Rob Holm, Department of Technology chair and automotive professor, shared some of the reasons WWU has such a good automotive program.
Summer Boulais: What makes the automotive program at WWU special?
Rob Holm: Without a doubt, the students. They are very smart, ambitious, and have a lot of integrity. We have been extremely fortunate to be able to recruit very capable students who, when they are finished here, smoothly transition into successful careers that continue to validate the quality of our program. Another thing that makes it special is the size of the program. We are small (20-30 majors) which allows for close connections between the students, small class sizes, and a lot of one-on-one interaction with professors.
Boulais: Why should a student interested in an automotive major choose WWU?
Holm: Our program is rigorous and focuses on developing top-level skills in diagnosis, electrical troubleshooting, and single-repair experiences on late-model vehicles. That means we train our students to understand vehicle systems thoroughly so that they can accurately diagnose complicated problems and perform the repair correctly the first time. Our approach is a holistic one—we train students to think about every aspect of their career and the experiences that come with it.
Boulais How would you describe the department's reputation?
Holm: Stellar. At least where we’ve had graduates go, that is. Because WWU has a small automotive program, we aren’t known everywhere. However, we get frequent and repeated requests for contact information of graduating seniors by shops and companies who have hired or been exposed to graduates of WWU’s automotive program. Our students have represented us extremely well.
Boulais: What is your favorite aspect of teaching within the automotive department here?
Holm: The connections I’ve been able to make with students and then to maintain those connections over the course of their careers. My life has been profoundly impacted in a positive way by the students and the relationships I’ve been fortunate to make over the last 20+ years.
WWU offers bachelor’s degrees in automotive service, automotive management, or an associate degree in automotive technology. This year the program is celebrating 75 years of having automotive majors. To learn more about our automotive program, visit wallawalla.edu/auto.
Posted on March 21, 2023.