Skip navigation

Live! From inside the classroom – Automotive

In this series, we provide a closer look at hands-on learning during COVID-19.

While COVID-19 means online learning for most Tidewater Community College students, some are back in the classroom for hands-on training. In fact, more than 400 sections of classes in interior design, automotive, health professions, welding, veterinary technology, culinary arts, visual arts, electronics technology and other programs have on-campus components. 

A peek inside an Automotive Technology instructional bay

Walk into one of the 15 instructional bays at the Regional Automotive Center (RAC), and you’ll see students at work on real cars using state-of-the-art equipment and tools.

In the Toyota lab, students learn about advanced electrical repairs with instructor Darryl Parker. Vehicles in the bay have been set up to have “problems,” which include nonfunctioning power windows, fog lights and headlights.

All of the students in the lab are second-year students who are also completing externship hours at local repair facilities.

Tips for learning

They work as a team! Before COVID-19, teams were larger, but social distancing and safety guidelines resulted in two-person teams collaborating to solve each problem.

Student voices

“It’s good to be back! My favorite thing is the hands-on with all the right tools. I’m absolutely glad to be here,” said Cody Kaneiss, who works at Charles Barker Lexus and hopes to become a master technician with his own shop.

“It’s hard to learn a lot of things we need to online,” said Jaiden Jenkins, who works at Casey Toyota. “It’s much better to be in here with the cars. I’m a little nervous being back because we are learning advanced electrical work, but not because of COVID.”

“With this kind of program, you really need the hands-on,” said Aaron Johnson, who works at Checkered Flag Toyota. “It’s a little more difficult now with the safety precautions, but well worth it!”

About the professor

Parker is a master technician with more than 20 years in the field. During labs he shares his real-world experiences and expertise with students.

“We are in our ninth week of face-to-face labs because we started in thesummer,” he said. “Students are working safely and doing an excellent job on their assigned tasks. It’s great to see everyone sticking to the guidelines.”

About the program

Students in the college’s Automotive Technology program prepare to become technicians at dealerships and shops across the state. TCC’s technologically advanced curriculum is based on the Master Automotive Technology standards set forth by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Students learn in the RAC, the area’s only high-tech facility for automotive technicians.

For more information about the Regional Automotive Center and the college’s automotive, diesel and marine technology programs, call Bobby Rowe, Sr. at 757-822-5176 or email