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NASCAR Technical Institute prepares for Chrysler partnership

Most NASCAR Technical Institute students are preparing to work as technicians and machinists outside of the motorsports industry.
Most NASCAR Technical Institute students are preparing to work as technicians and machinists outside of the motorsports industry. NASCAR Technical Institute

Though Mooresville’s for-profit technical institute bears the name NASCAR, only about 20 percent of its graduates go on to work in racing. Most head to careers as auto technicians at car dealerships.

Because of a new partnership forged between the school’s parent company, Universal Technical Institute, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, students at the Mooresville campus will now be able to take part in specialized training from all three of America’s major auto manufacturers.

“It gives students confidence that major manufacturers are investing in our program,” NASCAR Technical Institute President Jennifer Bergeron said in an interview.

Kim McWaters, CEO of Universal Technical Institute, was in Mooresville on Tuesday to discuss implementation of the new partnership.

“This campus is one that we’re most proud of,” McWaters said. “It sets high standards.”

The Mooresville campus will be used as the launchpad for the new partnership, which is expected to expand to other campuses over time.

McWaters said she expects the partnership will ultimately increase student enrollment across the company – and boost investor confidence. The company’s stock is down 66 percent from five years ago.

About 1,000 students attend the Mooresville campus. McWaters said the new program could add up to 200 more students.

While students attend school, the vast majority work part time in Mooresville to help them pay tuition that can total more than $30,000 for the two-year program.

“It’s expensive to teach people what they need to know to work on machines like this,” McWaters said.

School spokesman John Dodson said the local manufacturing industries are “starved” for workers who have the skills the school’s graduates have.

On Tuesday, the school hosted recruiters from 12 different Ford dealerships. Dodson called this common and praised the school’s 90 percent placement rate.

“If you come here and apply yourself, you’ll leave with a job,” Dodson said.

Steimer: 865-556-1389

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