New SUV brings hope for students’ job opportunities - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New SUV brings hope for students’ job opportunities

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Volkswagen's new CrossBlue SUV is bringing a lot of hope to the futures of local students, especially when it comes to jobs. That includes Chattanooga State Community College's partnership with the Volkswagen Academy.

No word yet if the new SUV means the VW Academy will be expanding its current programs, but educators say it's definitely a good sign for students or anyone looking for a new career.

"This is awesome, this is like the headlines back in 2008. It's Chattanooga -- again," said Tim McGhee, Dean of Engineering & Technology at Chattanooga State. Monday's announcement of building the CrossBlue in Chattanooga means a lot to students and faculty at the college.

McGhee said the college has a partnership program with Volkswagen at the Volkswagen Academy. From machining to welding to robotics, students learn major skills VW needs while on site.

"It takes skilled maintenance associates to keep those things running, keep the plant going and keep the production running," said McGhee.

The VW Academy has two 3-year programs and accepts 24 new students each year. Automation Mechatronics students work on the equipment at the VW plant; Car Mechatronics students work on the vehicles produced there.

McGhee said the program recruits heavily in Chattanooga, throughout Hamilton County as well as the surrounding counties. The goal: growing the local workforce.

"We're going after people that live here, that made their homes and their lives here, and have family here," he said.

According to the Dean, the Academy graduated its first class of 12 students last year. About 65 students are currently enrolled, he said. Students who complete the program receive an associate's degree in Engineering Systems Technology and a job offer.

Educators say the new expansion highlights the bright future for local jobs in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math.

"I just hope it gives us a wake-up call that there's another great opportunity," said McGhee.

"It's here. It's in Chattanooga. Let's take advantage of it."

The Academy's acceptance rate is just under 25-percent. Prospective students must go through a competitive application and interview process. A new class of 24 will be accepted next month.

For more information on the Volkswagen Academy, click here.
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