Calabasas High School auto shop class prepares teens for real world

CALABASAS, Calif. (KABC) -- A team of auto shop students from Calabasas High School wants to buck a trend and continue training for a national competition.

The high schoolers have been practicing their speed at tearing down and accurately rebuilding an engine for the national Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge. Students in the program understand they are unlikely finalists.

"A lot of people don't even really know we even have an automotive program," said team member Erik Roder.

There are relatively few auto shop classes left in high schools in the L.A. area, which Calabasas High auto instructor Josh Landerer said helps the school stand out.

"I think for this school or for a school in general to have all that, that puts that school way up there," he said.

The L.A. Unified School District consolidated many of its automotive training programs into central locations, such as the city of Bell. Henry Saidi of the LAUSD's Slauson Occupational Center said he helps students in that program find employment.

"They train here and they learn about the engine, brakes, suspension and they get a job," he said.

Educators who teach the trade emphasize that some young people will not benefit from college or a desk job. Good auto technicians can make six figures a year, so learning the trade early could have good practical effects for young people.

"What are they going to do when they go off to college? Call mom and dad and say 'Hey my car broke down, what do I do?' You need to be self-sufficient," said Landerer.
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