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Driven to Help Students Succeed in Today’s Automotive Field

It’s the crack of dawn, and Jim is ready for another busy day teaching automotive topics at Delta College.

But before working with anything four-wheel drive, he must attend to some four-legged friends.

Jim Miller working in Auto lab with two students

“From being a past student here and a graduate of the GM ASEP program, I felt that I had a difference in my life from Delta. And I truly enjoy helping other students hopefully see that also. "

“I enjoy raising livestock – my kids all have 4-H livestock projects,” Jim says. “I still live on the same Chesaning farm where I grew up.”

Jim farms part-time, and his agricultural background was a major reason he became interested in automobiles. He remembers taking apart tractors with his father, an activity that gave him mechanical interest and know-how and paved the way for an automotive career.

Jim valued the work from the get-go, because it gave him a chance to make a difference in people’s lives.  

“If you brought your vehicle to me in the morning, I was the reason that vehicle got fixed, so you could get back on your way to work,” he says. “That’s something I enjoyed the most.”

Teaching the next generation

Jim now helps the next generation of auto technicians get the skills they need. He coordinates Delta’s automotive service program and two closely related programs: the General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (GM ASEP), and the newly added heavy-duty diesel service technology program.

“I truly enjoy being part of the Delta difference,” Jim says. “It’s about helping students get down the road toward something in life. In this program and these career fields, the sky’s the limit for people who want to work.”

If you need living proof, you can start with Jim himself – he’s a Delta graduate. Though he says much has changed about the automotive field and training since he was a student.

“Today’s technicians aren’t the same as they were 20 or 30 years ago,” he says. “There was a perception that people went into this field who couldn’t make it in other fields. That’s not the case anymore. Literally everything to do with vehicles is electronic.”

The technology and the work may be challenging for students, but Jim says the rewards are many. Not only because of the “huge” job outlook, but also the exciting nature of the work.

“You don’t get paid to punch a clock and show up,” he says. “You get paid for what you do. I try to equip students with what will get them started and motivated.”

“In a safe manner, I want to get students into the shop as quickly as possible. Because when we tear things apart, we raise questions in our mind about how they work.”

Jim Miller
Instructor of Automotive, GM ASEP and Heavy-Duty Diesel Programs  

His approach emphasizes hands-on experience as a way to get students trained and up-to-speed on today’s vehicles.

After all, it’s what first sparked his interest and understanding back on the farm.

“In a safe manner, I want to get students into the shop as quickly as possible,” he says. “Because when we tear things apart, we raise questions in our mind about how they work.”

Are you interested in pursuing an automotive-related career? Delta College is the perfect place to start. Apply now.