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AIM program gives students business and hands-on experience

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Photo courtesy of CSU-Pueblo
Photo courtesy of CSU-Pueblo

The Colorado State University-Pueblo Automotive Industry Management program prepares students for many different careers in the automotive industry.

The AIM program offers a curriculum that emphasizes financial analysis, personnel supervision, techniques of technical problem solving, and hands-on laboratory experiences.

Cathi Robbe, assistant professor of Automotive Industry Management and program coordinator, is a graduate of the Automotive Parts and Service Management program, which is now known as AIM.

Robbe, a Pueblo native, began working at the university 15 years ago as a lecturer.

“Was working retail. Loved retail, after a while just kind of got burned out on it. Some of my associates at Advance were students up here, and they knew the instructor had quit. I came in and interviewed, and that was 15 years ago,” Robbe said.

AIM students also learn technical hands-on experience from two premier faculty members. William Bencini, assistant professor for AIM, joined the program in 2010, and Tyrell Smith, who is an assistant professor and a graduate of CSU-Pueblo, joined the program in 2009.

“Ty teaches the advanced classes and the electrical. Bill does the engines, transmissions, fuels, and then he has a professional development course. I do most of the business courses. My courses are the number crunching, customer service, inventory management, and OSHA,” Robbe said.

The program features a 97 percent placement rate and entry salary or wages range from $40,000 to $50,000. Graduates are heavily recruited by companies such as TESLA, Cummins, Sherwin-Williams, Subaru of America, and Fiat Chrysler to name a few.

Several companies offer employment information sessions, according to Robbe. These companies primarily interview students in the fall semester and explain the different positions and opportunities that the students have.

Currently, the program has roughly 90 students enrolled, 10 of which will graduate in the 2014-2015 school year. These students have immediate job opportunities after graduating.

“A lot of the companies like the technical hands-on experience that our students have, but they also like that they have a business administration minor from the Hasan School of Business. So they like that combination of technical and management skills,” Robbe said.

The automotive world isn’t just for men. In fact, women graduates are highly sought after. According to Robbe, the program currently has two women, and she hopes to enroll more. She would also like to emphasize that a degree in the automotive industry doesn’t necessarily mean a career of being a mechanic.

Students interested in a possible career in the automotive and business world are encouraged to call 719-549-2879 to speak to Robbe or another member of the AIM faculty for more information.