The Western New York Ford Dealers launched a program Tuesday intended to educate area high school students on the changing landscape of the automotive repair industry.
Under the Ford Future Techs program, dealers will donate a vehicle within two or three years of production to a chosen local high school with an automotive technical program.
In addition, dealers will serve as resources to students and provide other equipment such as vehicle interfaces and laptops that can run diagnostics on a Ford vehicle.
The number of vehicles donated each year will depend on how many schools apply to the program.
“When you graduate, this is what you’re going to be working on,” said Peter J. DeLacy of the Western New York Ford Dealers.
He said the program has been in the works for about a year. In talking to teachers, DeLacy said he heard that students were learning by working on cars that were more than 10 years old. In addition, the schools with automotive programs didn’t have the resources to secure newer vehicles and the advanced tools needed to repair them, he said.
A selection committee, made up of members from the 21 dealerships comprising the Western New York Ford Dealers, will review the applications and make selections.
Applications will be accepted through July 24. A school will then be presented with the vehicle and technology sometime around early September.
The program launch was highlighted by a panel discussion at the University at Buffalo Education Opportunity Center.
Panelists included DeLacy, Jay Galligan, director of service operations for West Herr Automotive Group, Katherine M. Heinle, director of career and technical education for Buffalo Public Schools, John Slenker from the state Department of Labor, and Paul Stasiak, president of the Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Association.