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Virtual reality helping Pinellas County automotive students excel

Tech class
Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2022-02-16 08:13:59-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Students at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg are turning to virtual reality to learn how to repair cars quicker, easier and safer. It comes as new technology in the automotive industry evolves and there is a dire need for auto technicians statewide.

From building robots to tearing apart car engines, 12th grader Caroline Daley loves learning hands-on. “More and more, I realize how much I love the automotive field and I love what it’s doing for people because everybody needs their cars worked on,” she explained.

Usually, you’ll find her and her classmates huddled under a car at Pinellas County’s Schools Automotive Technology Center inside Northeast High School. But now, virtual reality is helping Caroline and her classmates understand the complexities of car parts before they even pick up a wrench.

“There are so many things especially when you get to electric and hybrid vehicles that can be dangerous but because we use the AR technology, we can dissect pieces of a car without danger and it gives us a deeper level of understanding because it explains it step by step,” Daley added.

The technology brings the car parts to life in 3-D, allowing students to assemble, disassemble and diagnose problems.

The enhanced program inside Pinellas County Schools comes at a perfect time. The Institute for Automotive Service Excellence estimates there will be 7,000 job openings for auto technicians in Florida alone over the next 5 years.”

As part of a partnership with Pinellas Technical College, the students can earn their certification in less than half the time it normally takes.

“Everything is now shifted towards the idea of getting students jobs at 18 when they leave here and with our industry partners in the area, we are able to get a 90-95% placement rate for all students that come through the program,” explained Automotive Instructor Brian Johnson says he gets calls daily from local dealerships hoping to hire students.

NEHS is the only K-12 PCS school using the zSpace virtual reality software

Northeast High School is one of Pinellas County Schools’ 80 magnets, fundamental, and career programs tailored to students’ interests, talents, and abilities. The district will showcase all of the District Application Programs at three fairs this month starting with a Facebook/YouTube Live Event on October 12 for a general overview and Q&A.

The application period is not until January (Jan. 5-14) but district leaders hope to give families a chance to start researching and thinking about their options.

District Application Programs – Magnet and Fundamental Programs []

Calendar []

October 12, 2021

Facebook & YouTube Live Event: All Things DAP

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

(link posts Oct. 1)

October 19, 2021

North County DAP Fair

Tarpon Springs High School

1411 Gulf Road. Tarpon Springs6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. [] (schools attending)

October 23, 2021

All County DAP Fair

Largo High School

410 Missouri Ave. N, Largo

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. [] (schools attending)

October 26, 2021

South County DAP Fair at Northeast High School

5500 16thSt. N, St. Petersburg

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. [](schools attending)