This week’s Southwest Tech Spotlight is two of our Automotive Repair and Refinish Technician students.
Mario Rios and Seger Gott come from different places, but they both grew up with families who share a passion for and history of fixing cars. The shining reputation of the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinish Technician (known also simply as “Auto Body”), affordable tuition, and student housing made Southwest Tech an easy choice.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Rios: I’m from Darlington, WI, graduated from Darlington High School in 2015, and I moved to Fennimore for this program.
Gott: I’m from Maynard, IA and I graduated from Sumner-Fredricksburg HS in 2016.
How did you end up in the Auto Body program at Southwest Tech?
Rios: Since I was little my family has always dealt with cars. It’s both a hobby and we fix our own. I wanted to learn to repair cars to that I could help people. One of my friends who is an Auto Tech student referred me to this program.
When I was looking for programs I looked in Alabama, where I’m originally from, but this program was less expensive and had a better reputation.
Gott: My uncle has his own shop, Dave’s Collision Shop in Ossian, IA, and visits the area for Automotive Service Excellence (ACE) certification, so I was aware of the program. When I was comparing this program to others, I really liked that Southwest Tech’s is one year.
What do you wish people knew about this program?
Rios: The three best things about this program are the one-on-one instruction, there aren’t many extra costs—nearly everything is included—and there’s no class on Fridays.
Gott: The fact that it’s just one year meant it costs much less than other two-year programs. We have a small class so there’s a lot of one-on-one instruction. We rent our tools for $200 and get a $100 refund when we turn them in at the end of the program, and classes are just four days a week.
Tell us a little about your experience at Southwest Tech.
Rios: Help with homework is free and available. An Academic Success Coach came to me and offered me help before I even knew I needed it. He wanted to see me succeed. The greatest experience is meeting great people every day. Our instructor, Greg Wubben, is a cool guy. He’s difficult but it’s for your own good so you learn. I also like Charley’s Student Center—it’s nice to have a place to relax and do homework. There’s also a lot of student activities. They can help you get to know more students—not just who’s in your program.
Gott: I like that I can live on-campus. My home is two hours away, so it’s nice to live within walking distance and be able to be home three days a week to help with my family’s business. We have a virtual paint booth to learn about how to properly apply paint without wasting materials. I helped at Open House and enjoyed talking to students about the program using the virtual paint booth.
After you graduate, what are your plans? What kinds of options does a graduate have?
Rios: I’m considering going back to Darlington to work. I have good relationships with some of the collision shops there because they call me to help translate when families who speak Spanish come in. After I get some work experience, I’d like to open my own shop.
Gott: I want to get a job back home, so that I can get some experience and save up for my own shop.