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Inside the RAC: Toyota T-TEN

Walk into Tidewater Community College’s Regional Automotive Center and you’ll see highly polished floors and new vehicles on display.

But don’t let the quiet lobby fool you.

Step into one of the 15 instructional laboratory bays and you’ll hear a cacophony from impact guns, wrenches and other machinery mixed with the hum of student and instructor voices.

Inside this Toyota lab, students were servicing front disc brakes and using the on-car brake lathe to repair rotors.

Toyota T-TEN students earn an associate degrees in  automotive technology, along with certificates in chassis systems, engine performance, powertrains and electronics. As important as the academic degrees are to advancing, the ability to do the job from day one gives RAC students a real advantage.

Not surprisingly, after just one semester at the college, every student in class works a paid, entry-level position at a Toyota dealership.

Students get hands-on training in the Toyota program at TCC’s Regional Automotive Center.

“I got hired because of my time at TCC,” said Chris Rogue who works at Checked Flag Toyota. “Everything we’re learning can be immediately used in the field.”

Jaiden Jenkins, recently hired by Casey Toyota, enjoys using the vehicle computer systems to diagnose any problem agrees. “The benefits and pay are good, and the more you learn, and the more credentials you have, the more you earn,” he said.

Toyota students learn on newer Toyota vehicles and use tools and online repair guides provided by the manufacturer.

Instructor Darryl Parker works with a student in the Toyota program.

“I like that our instructor is involved in every step of the hands-on work. He makes sure we’re learning proper techniques and doing everything to industry standards,” said Zachary Clark, who works at Priority Toyota.

“My favorite thing has been taking apart an engine and then putting it back together,” said Sawyer Matthews who works at Charles Barker Toyota. “This program helps us learn the skills we need to become master technicians.”

TCC’s technologically advanced automotive curriculum is based on the Master Automotive Service Technology standards set forth by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Education Foundation.

TCC is one of 38 schools nationwide that provide Toyota-specific training. The RAC also offers manufacturer programs for Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Subaru.

Step inside and see for yourself. Interested in exploring the career options at the RAC? Call 757-822-5000 to schedule a tour and for more information.

From here, go to work as an automotive technician and business owner

Horace Linton used to tinker on cars. After graduating from Tidewater Community College, he turned the hobby into a career. “I was actually able to see what it means that education is key because it can help you secure your employment and earnings and then supply your dreams, whether it be the white picket fence or a cruise,” said the Virginia Beach resident, who earned an automotive degree.

Drive your future: In today’s busy world of work, family and leisure activities, reliable transportation is essential. With vehicles becoming more complex with advanced technology and dozens of computer systems in every car and truck, skilled technicians are in high demand by dealerships and local repair shops.

The degree: TCC prepares you to become a technician in the automotive industry or provides updated training if you’re already working in the field. Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology in the general program or specialize in a manufacturer-specific programs from Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Subaru.

Every program enables you to become an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified technician in automotive chassis systems, automotive electronics, powertrains and engine performance.

Meet a TCC alum and automotive technology faculty member: Linton immigrated to the states from Jamaica in 1996. He came for the educational opportunities and a better future.

“At TCC you learn the science behind what you are doing and get a firm foundation for the future,” Linton said.

Linton graduated with his automotive associate degree and returned to TCC to earn his Associate of Science in Business Administration. He started his own automotive business after working as an ASE master technician in a variety of locations from Kramer Tire to Checkered Flag Audi and Porsche.

Linton owns a booming family business and works alongside his brother, mom and dad, while also employing other technicians. He specializes in wheel and rim repair, while also offering full-service automotive repair.

Students in the PTTC
Students in the Priority Technical Training Center came into the program with little knowledge, and will leave knowing how to diagnose problems and complete repairs.

Paying it forward: Linton is helping the next generation of technicians prepare for work in the field. He began teaching at TCC’s Regional Automotive Center in 2016 and now instructs students through the Priority Technical Training Center in Chesapeake, funded by Priority Automotive and designed to give nonviolent offenders from the Norfolk jail training for jobs as auto technicians.

Built and funded entirely by Priority, the state-of-the-art training center opens as dealerships across the country scramble to find highly skilled auto technicians to service vehicles that grow more technologically advanced by the day.

“When these students started they didn’t know anything about cars. Now I’m confident that they can do repairs properly,” Linton said. “I like the unique challenge of this program and enjoy mentoring my students and showing them another way of doing things. I feel like I’m making a real difference.”

Interested? For information about TCC’s Automotive Technology programs, contact Beno Rubin at or call 757-822-5000.