In District 196, we are nationally recognized for providing boundless opportunities in which students can learn and grow. Whether they have an affinity for academics, the arts and/or athletics, whether they are college bound or want to pursue a career right after graduating, our goal is to expose students to the infinite possibilities within our district and throughout the communities we serve.
Opportunities in our district’s Career Development Program are available to all high school students. Started in 1998, the program offers a variety of courses designed to expose students to career possibilities in animal science, aviation, computing, emergency services, forensic science, hospitality management, health care, music production and vehicle services. The courses incorporate strong academic preparation, unique field trip opportunities and partnerships within the community.
The vehicle services course actually dates back to 1968 at Rosemount High School. It was started by Rich Rabanus, who taught the course for 34 years before retiring and turning it over to his son, Ian Rabanus.
“I grew up coming to the shop on Saturdays with my dad,” Rabanus said. “Since that time, automotive industry equipment, technology and curriculum have transformed. There is a need, now more than ever, for automotive technicians in the marketplace.”
For the past 50 years, the vehicle services program at Rosemount High has served thousands of District 196 students who have graduated and built careers in the automotive, mechanical and industrial industries, including servicing, repairing, buying/selling and engineering.
Earlier this year, the program achieved an impressive milestone, becoming one of just 11 high school programs in Minnesota to earn national accreditation for automotive service technology through the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Industry Education Alliance.
“For me and my dad, who have spent our careers helping students build skills in the automotive industry, meeting this industry standard is so rewarding because of what this means for our students,” Rabanus said. “It provides them with increased career opportunities and pathways. Students have increased access to state-of-the-art equipment and training, which gives them essential technical skills right out of high school that employers are seeking.”
Being an accredited program also gives students the opportunity to achieve industry recognized credentials through certification exams. Through the accreditation process, Rabanus was able to establish articulation agreements for approximately one-fourth of the credits students need to graduate from an automotive service or mechanical program. For students pursuing a career in these fields, the agreements will save thousands of dollars in post-secondary education costs.
The accreditation process took two years to complete and included upgrades to the facilities, equipment and tools, modifications to curriculum and documentation of the ASE standards to ensure the program meets the industry’s highest instructional standards.
“Students were critical in supporting this process,” Rabanus said. “In addition to being part of the day-to-day facility transformation, students served on the advisory council to provide feedback and insights that they felt were essential to support their career-planning process.”
Industry partners were also essential in supporting the accreditation process. They include Dakota County Technical College, Dunwoody College, local independent service shops and dealers, as well as the Vehicle Services Advisory Council, which includes industry experts, educators and students.
“This accreditation recognizes the quality of our program, as well as the knowledge and dedication of our partners who are preparing students to be career and college ready,” Rabanus said.
The program continues to seek to build industry partnerships in the automotive and mechanical fields. From equipment needs to mentorship opportunities, individuals and companies interested in learning more about partnership opportunities should contact Ian Rabanus at ian.rabanus@District196.org.