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See more photos of HCC's Automotive Systems Technology program here.
Automotive Systems Technology instructors gathered recently to talk about HCC's 40th anniversary and the program's history. Pictured are (front row from left): Joe Barrett, Albert Etheridge and Freddie Outland (back row) Hunter Taylor, Keith Mumford and Phillip Massey.  
In celebration of Halifax Community College's (HCC) 40th Anniversary and Automotive Systems Technology Week this week, retired instructors Freddie Outland and Albert Etheridge joined current department head Hunter Taylor, and others to reflect on the history of the program. Outland was the first automotive department head at HCC.

Automotive Systems Technology can date its origins back to 1968, when then-president, Dr. Phillip Taylor, asked Outland, one of his former students from Wilson County Technical Institute, to come and teach class. The first classroom was located in a service station near Colonial Manor Motel, HCC's first campus.

"At that time, I taught math, English and the whole program," said Outland. There were only a few people to teach the different courses in the beginning.

Etheridge joined Outland in 1973 and started an auto body repair program after that. In 1977, instructors moved to the present campus. The automotive program then spread to the local prisons in 1985—first at Halifax, then Caledonia, and finally at Tillery, where it remains today.

By 1992, area high school students could take basic engine repair classes on campus. This continued until high school curriculums changed and no longer included the HCC program as an offering to students.

Both Outland and Etheridge echoed the same sentiment—every day and every hour was different. Outland described the best part of teaching. "Seeing a student who wouldn't talk and wouldn't look you straight in the eye and was isolated, and after you worked with him a semester, you see the change and he starts coming out," he said. "The best reward is when your students find jobs."

In addition to its already successful diploma and certificate programs, Automotive Systems Technology added an Associate in Applied Science degree last year. Contact Taylor at (252) 536-7228 or via e-mail at taylorh@halifaxcc.edu for more details.