Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa career center will provide technicians for car dealers

NORTH TAMPA — It wasn't easy. As Anthony Colucci tells it, the process involved hundreds of pages of paperwork.

But it's official: The Bowers/Whitley Career Center in Tampa is an AYES school, and Colucci, the school's principal, couldn't be happier.

The designation from the industry-supported Automotive Youth Educational Systems means some graduates of Bowers/Whitley will be qualified to find jobs at local car dealerships.

It's a step above conventional high school automobile mechanic programs, said Randy Houck, Florida's AYES coordinator. In fact, Houck said Bowers/Whitley will be the only AYES school in the Tampa Bay area. "The closest one to you is in Sarasota," he said.

It's also a milestone for the North Tampa school, which specializes in educating students who are at risk of dropping out. Those who complete the program and graduate will qualify for entry-level jobs that pay $12 to $15 an hour, Houck said.

AYES was initiated in the mid 1990s as a way for car dealers to have access to qualified young technicians. "When I was a kid, we messed with our own cars," said Houck, 56. "Kids today don't do that."

What's more, cars have become more complex, needing far more than the occasional oil change or brake job. "The average car has 20 computer systems in it," Houck said. "When you have a problem, it's usually not a mechanical problem, but an electrical one."

Looking for a partnership with a local school, Houck hit it off with Colucci. "He has an enthusiasm that permeates everything in that school," Houck said. "Kids there understand what they have to do and why. They can see light at the end of the tunnel."

Now the two are working to strengthen relationships with local dealers who can provide internships and jobs.

While much of the instruction is comparable to standard high school programs, Houck said the AYES program is more sophisticated. "It's not necessarily what we teach, but how we teach it," he said.

For students with good enough grades and conduct, there are summer internships at dealerships between the junior and senior year that pair the kids up with mentors.

"Not all kids get into the internship," Houck said. "Some wash out. But the ones that do, you see a tremendous change in those kids when they come back in their senior year."

.Fast facts

Bowers-Whitley Career Center

Location: 13609 N 22nd St., Tampa

Students it serves: Wharton, Gaither, Freedom, Sickles and Chamberlain high schools and students residing north of Busch Boulevard/Gunn Highway between U.S. 301 and the Pinellas County line. Those living outside that area can apply but have to provide their own transportation.

Programs: Administrative assistant, automotive technology, building maintenance, culinary arts, customer service, digital publishing, early childhood education, hospitality, interior design services, marketing, nursing assistant

For more information: (813) 558-1750 or visit bowers-

Tampa career center will provide technicians for car dealers 09/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.
  5. White House signals acceptance of Russia sanctions bill


    WASHINGTON — The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to …

    President Donald Trump’s ability to lift sanctions against Russia would be blocked.