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San Jacinto College
News Release
Friday, October 07, 2011

U.S. Department of Transportation joins SJC in opening of $21 million transportation center

PASADENA, Texas — U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Deputy Administrator Gregory D. Winfree assisted in the grand opening of the $21 million San Jacinto College (SJC) transportation center earlier this week.

The event, attended by elected officials and major vehicle manufacturer representatives, included tours of the expansive 92,000 square-foot facility with its 25 adjoining class and lab rooms, 24 offices, fully-computerized multipurpose room, and manufacturers and vendors areas. Funded by a 2008 bond referendum, the transportation center houses the latest in technology and factory automotive equipment to service vehicles from General Motors, Ford, Toyota Lexus, Honda Acura, and Chrysler. Upon completion of an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology or a Certificate of Technology in Automotive Technology, students receive eight Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications, factory certifications, and are fully prepared for immediate employment.

“This training center will prepare and position its students for important and good paying jobs,” said Winfree. “It's going to give the auto industry great employees who are ready to hit the ground running as soon as they step in the door. It’s going to help this country retain its preeminence as a builder of world-class cars and help make the vehicles that are already on the road safer and more reliable.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, many job openings in automotive service will be created to replace retiring technicians. Job opportunities are expected to be very good for those who complete postsecondary automotive training programs and who earn ASE certification. People with formal automotive training, good diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, training in electronics, and computer skills are expected to have the best opportunities.

"With the opening of this facility, we are now able to provide students with the latest in technology and factory equipment, and the environment that meets the level of education provided by our nationally-accredited automotive technology department," said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College chancellor. "We want to thank our community for supporting our students with the finest facilities they need to achieve their goals in higher education."

Industry outlook for automotive technicians is on the rise by 5 to 6 percent for the state of Texas. Automotive students have traditionally enjoyed nearly a 100 percent employment rate due to the College's strong partnerships with industry and manufacturers. The new transportation center is also home to the BMW STEP Program, which allows students with high grade point averages to apply for the BMW factory program upon graduation from San Jacinto College. For Mary Haar of Katy, training in a climate controlled facility in the latest technology and factory equipment puts her ahead of the rest when competing in the job market.

"This is an amazing facility,” said Haar, “It’s climate controlled, which makes it easier to focus on your work, and it’s eco-friendly, which is something I really like since one of the major problems in the automotive industry is pollution. It’s a brilliant well thought-out facility where students can be in their classrooms and step right into their lab.”

The SJC automotive department is fully accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and is ASE, Level 1, certified. Each full-time automotive instructor is also an ASE Master-Certified Technician. The new transportation facility is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) NC-Silver. Industry partners include Snap-on tools, Mac Tools, Matco Tools, and Hunter Engineering Company. Morris & Associates served as the architects, and Durotech General Contractors, Inc. was the center's contractors.

“San Jacinto College is a great example of the unique role that community colleges play in the economy and why the president has made them a priority,” said Winfree. “Community colleges offer affordable specialized training and education programs that connect people to jobs, jobs that need to be filled right now. There’s no field that meets these types of programs more than the field of transportation.”

View a video of the San Jacinto College transportation center grand opening at

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The College, an Achieving the Dream Leader College, is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in over 140 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. Our graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook at

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