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Abilene Automotive Education Alliance brings Abilene High up to date

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) - Even though schools are training students for their futures, there are sometimes parts of their education that might get overlooked. For a while, that was the Abilene High auto shop. It was run-down and needed a bit of care to bring things up to date.

Arrow Ford general manager Seaton Higginbotham is involved in technical education in addition to auto sales. Helping students to prepare for careers in the technical realm, automotive or otherwise, is important to him. Higginbotham says,"The purpose is to create a pathway that takes a student from Abilene High, Cooper, Wylie, or one of the independent school districts, and get them into a career path that takes them all the way to Cisco or TSTC."

That's what the Abilene Automotive Education Alliance is all about. When they looked at the Abilene High auto shop, it became apparent that it might not be able to fully prep students for a job.

Paul Bounds started the AAEA, and he says, "They didn't have the equipment." However, the AAEA was able to turn that around. "We were fortunate enough to get them laptops, computers, we were able to redo their base system of tools."

Eric Kuhns serves at Dyess, and helped organize the manpower necessary to take on the renovation job. He remembers his first experience seeing the shop. "As we walked through, we realized we could help the local high school and the teacher to set up the shop to look professional."

For students, that change to a professional appearance has been a big boost for their futures. Shop instructor Will Kirby says, "The students who have been here for a couple of years, everything is clicking better for them. Everything is in order. Having a place for everything and everything in its place."

Mikli Mones graduated in 2014, but he was taking a look around the renovated shop, excited to see the changes. "Oh, man, it was a total improvement. It's organized." Mones says things are easier for today's students after the renovation. "You need a tool, you can find your tools now. You don't have to go digging. You can find everything right in the toolbox, where it's supposed to be."

Abilene High senior Jesus Romero enjoys the new look, and how it's closer to what he'll be experiencing in the future. "Being in a more professional environment, Mr. Kirby wanted us to act professional and be professional." Romero adds, "I think that really helped out a lot."

The work still isn't finished, with even more equipment on the way. Work isn't finished for the AAEA, either. They hope to expand across the state, and possibly the nation, bringing a high level of professionalism to other schools.

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