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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Future Technicians Meet Future Technologies

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, May 12, 2006

McCann automotive program student Stephan Lewis
North Adams - A Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren automobile with a 617-horsepower supercharged 5.5 liter V8 engine was the "dream machine" for Eric Clermont.

For Scott Greenleaf, a 500-horsepower supercharged Ford GT was among his favorite vehicles.

"I've always wanted to see one in real life," Greenleaf said during a May 10 interview at the Charles H. McCann Technical High School.


McCann freshman student Eric Clermont
Clermont, Greenleaf, Stephan Lewis and Robert Briggs are members of the school's automotive program freshmen class, and were among the 27 McCann students who attended the International Automobile Show at the Jacob Javitts Conference Center in New York City last month.

A total of 47 people took advantage of the day trip that was arranged by automotive instructors David Lewis and William Schrade. Those who participated paid a fee for the trip.

Say "Hello" To The Vehicles Of Tomorrow

For the automotive program students, the trip was an introduction of sorts; future vehicle technicians took a first-hand look at future vehicle technologies. The students were amazed and excited by what they saw, Schrade said.

"These guys, their eyes were just glued to the cars," he said.

Clermont said that he plans to work in the automotive profession after he completes his education.

"I liked the exotic cars, the sports cars," he said of the show. "I saw hybrid vehicles and electric cars."

Some vehicles boasted three front seats and others showed off unusual paint jobs. Greenleaf's father accompanied Greenleaf to the show, he said.

American "muscle car" fan Scott Greenleaf


"My dad used to specialize in auto body [work], so he was amazed at what they do with special effects and paint. He was also amazed at what they put on street racers that are street legal."

Clermont's father and grandfather traveled to the show as well.

"My father was said that some of the technology now is astounding," Clermont said. "And my grandfather said the same thing."

The number of vehicles on display covered three floors.

"I saw a lot of cars that I didn't even know existed," said Briggs.

Most of the show's vehicles were priced well out of range of student budgets; even students who've saved all their holiday money for years would be hard pressed to purchase a SLR-Class Cadillac with a starting price of $450,000.

And no one could - or would - speculate on the cost of a Chrysler vehicle design.

"Chrysler is making this thing called ME 412," said Clermont.
"It's got 812 horsepower and four superchargers on a V-12 engine. Something like that drinks gas, it doesn't sip gas like a hybrid."

"I don't think that it will go to production," said Greenleaf of the high-powered but very fuel-greedy design.

Flexible Fuel

"Flex fuel" vehicles caught the attention of the students.

Flexible fuel vehicles are made with a single fuel tank, fuel system, and engine, and is capable of burning unleaded gasoline or an alcohol fuel, mots often ethanol.


Robert Briggs plans a career in automotive repairs.
Since alcohol fuels are corrosive, the engine and fuel system must be adapted from what is installed in vehicles that burn only gasoline. A sensor located in the fuel line determines which fuel is being used and controls the injection and timing based on whether the fuel is gasoline or made from alcohol. The Ford firm developed the technology during the mid-1980s; Ford, General Motors, and the Daimler-Chrysler companies have built vehicles that use the technology.

Briggs and Clermont said that they believe that, as automotive technicians, they will need to know how to repair vehicles outfitted with new fuel-efficient technologies.

"If you get to be successful as a mechanic, you will get to work on cars like [those at the car show]," said Clermont.

"You know that if you go into this field, you will work on cars like this someday," said Briggs.

Stephan Lewis said that the skills taught as part of the automotive curriculum will benefit him when he pursues his planned career in the U.S. Air Force.

Greenleaf is a fan of "American muscle cars," and said that he hopes to specialize in repairing the new "muscle cars" that are now being manufactured.

Automotive curriculum jumior-year students are creating a large collage from some of the many photographs taken at the event.

From left, William Schrade, McCann student Kim Critelli, and David Lewis. Critelli is among the students creating a collage from photographs taken at the International Automobile Show.


David Lewis noted that many local businesses and groups sponsored the trip, and he offered special thanks to Frank Gaspardi of Southside Sales and Service, who assisted Schrade and Lewis with trip organization. Local entities were so generous that McCann students were given $10 in spending money once they arrived at the conference center, Lewis said.

The following businesses and organizations provided support to the trip:

Adelphia Cable Company

American Legion Post 125

Berkshire Valley Auto Parts

Big Y Supermarkets

DMC Racing Products

Dodge Boys

Dunkin' Donuts

Fisher Auto Parts

McCann school kitchen

North Adams Transcript

Northern Berkshire Community Television

Ralston Auto Parts

WilliNet Community Television

WNAW-WMNB and Dave Fierro

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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