UTI is one of the leading providers of training for students preparing for careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, marine, CNC machining and welding technicians. More than 200,000 students have graduated from UTI during their more than 50-year history.
Our guest on this episode of Imagine America Radio is Dr. Steven Coyle, Universal Technical Institute’s national director of counselor and academic relationships.
Universal Technical Institute has been offering the Imagine America Foundation scholarship programs for over 20 years!
Bob Martin: Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of Imagine America Radio. My name is Bob Martin, and I serve as president and CEO of the Imagine America Foundation. Joining me today is my colleague at the Imagine America Foundation, Lee Doubleday.
On this episode of Imagine America Radio, we want to look at exploring how one of the nation’s largest career colleges is adapting to the current coronavirus epidemic.
Joining us today is Dr. Steven Coyle, a good friend of the Foundation, and he is with Universal Technical Institute. Universal Technical Institute operates nationally in 12 locations in the United States and annually educates thousands of enrolled students.
Let’s just jump right in with Dr. Coyle.
Dr. Coyle, can you please tell us what UTI’s current response is to the coronavirus epidemic?
Steven Coyle: Yes. First of all, the COVID-19 is impacting the world in ways we haven’t seen in recent memory. We know these are highly unusual and unsettling times. As UTI’s teams respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, our decisions are guided by what is best for our students and the wider communities that we serve. At Universal Technical Institute, we offer technical training programs in auto, diesel, welding, collision training, NASCAR. We offer auto and NASCAR training and computer numeric control, which is our CNC training, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, and Marine Mechanics Institute. We have 12 campus locations across the country.
As the situation with the public health crisis continues to escalate, coupled with uncertainty of how long this pandemic will last, then coupled with the CDC, federal, state, and local guidelines, we made the decision that it was in the best interests of our students and campus communities to temporarily transition our instructor-led lectures online. This way, the students who wish to continue with the program can continue, and those who may not be comfortable are allowed to pause their education without losing credits, tuition, or their place in school. We’re here to support students with their choice.
As we continue to navigate this public health emergency together, students will be able to continue their education from home with instructor-led online courses—utilizing videos and presentations. Our students will then complete the hands-on portion when they’re able to return to classroom labs.
Our education team has been working very hard to make this a good experience for our students and to develop online courses that will be consistent with our state-of-the-industry curriculum. It is our absolute goal to support our student always, but especially during this challenging time to help them make a successful transition to online learning. We’re here to support them every step of the way.
Lee Doubleday: Good. Okay. All right. So how does online learning work at Universal Technical Institute?
Steven: Well, all programs will include instructor-led training and assignments via Google Classroom. UTI’s instructor has developed online training that is consistent with our state of the industry curriculum. The courses will include instructor-led training, utilizing videos and presentations, that will prepare students to take their assessments. Students can then complete lab portions when they are able to return to the classroom. As soon as we get them back to training in person and in our hands-on laboratories—and comply with CDC and local authority guidelines, we will do so.
Bob: Dr. Coyle, this is Bob again. Real quick, tell me how will the online instruction be compatible with multiple devices and tablets, desktops, etc., especially since so many of the current students rely upon these instruments exclusively?
Steven: Well, our online courses are available to our students through mobile devices, tablets, desktop computers, and is both Mac and PC compatible.
Lee: Great. That’s awesome. That’s good to hear because I know a lot of students, they use their phone for pretty much everything, but is the online instruction available 24/7, or will this be during scheduled class timeframe?
Steven: Yes, it is available 24/7. We thought we wanted to make it as flexible as possible for students to be able to access the online instruction.
Bob: Let’s move past the instruction, right into student services. What if you have students that need access to student services or other support? What is UTI doing on that?
Steven: Well, most of our campuses will remain open, unless circumstances warrant otherwise, to provide student support services. Once again in small groups and, as we make this transition, our instructors and staff will be able to help students from anything that they need. UTI will also continue to follow strict CDC protocols, including cleaning and sanitizing our campuses daily, cleaning high-tech areas multiple times throughout the day, and providing hand sanitizer stations. We also are offering our students technical support online and via their phones.
Lee: Okay, so you had mentioned that your campuses will remain open. Are you still open for tours?
Steven: Unfortunately, no. Our physical campuses are not, but UTI is offering online tours of our programs. We are excited to present our new UTI virtual campus tour, enabling our prospective students the ability to visit, view, and tour our campuses virtually via Google Street View. The virtual tour is very similar to the experiences that you may have used to tour homes via real estate sites. Users can simply search our campus location via Google, access Street View, and click into the virtual experience and tour our labs, classrooms, and MSAT programs. This is also a great opportunity to enable any of our prospective students, especially those who are remote, the opportunity to tour our campus virtually.
Yes, you can learn more about Universal Technical Institute, NASCAR Technical Institute, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, and the Marine Mechanics Institute by visiting our website at uti.edu and our online viewbook at www.uti.edu/viewbook. There, you can also access online tours for each of our programs, including our automotive, diesel, welding, NASCAR, CNC, motorcycle programs, and more.
We are also offering online webinars to interested students and guidance counselors and educators who are interested in learning more about our career-based education and our programs as a skilled technician. If you are interested, please reach out to me (Dr. Coyle), and I will provide the invitation and registration details. We are tentatively scheduled to conduct the first webinar next week.
Bob: An awful lot of information in there. I’m going to give you the chance to catch your breath, because I know this is very, very important information. Let me just say, while you’re catching your breath, Imagine America is committed to helping with these virtual tours, so in addition to UTI, any of our audience that will go to our website—probably won’t be until the first week in April—we’re going to start posting these virtual tours.
Now, let me get into starts. You got students, Dr. Coyle, that are in some state of the application process, may have been accepted, may have been given a start date. How does all this impact the next start for your next group of students?
Steven: Well, we’re absolutely recruiting new students. You can begin your course at UTI, MMI, or NASCAR Technical Institute every three weeks, just like we normally do. We are currently offering the instructor-led lectures online so we can continue to start your program of choice, and you can visit uti.edu for more information.
Lee: Yeah, now, Dr. Coyle, this is a hands-on training school with primarily hands-on courses. So how will this continue, how will training continue online?
Steven: Well, fortunately for us, UTI’s instructors are industry experts and are working together this week to develop online training that will be consistent with our state-of-the-industry curriculum. The courses we include, we include instructor training videos and presentations that will prepare you to take your assessments. Since we’ll be able to complete lab courses when they’re able to return to the classroom, as soon as we get back to training in person and in our hands-on labs, we will do so.
Bob: Well, I guess the next question. What if you got that person, probably like me, that might not be as comfortable with this online learning environment? What accommodations have you made for that?
Steven: Well, you know, all students are different. These decisions are never easy, and we know that. As the situation with the public health crisis continues to escalate, coupled with uncertainty of how long this will last, we’ve made the decision that was in the best interest of our students and campus communities to temporarily transition our instructor-led lectures online.
This way, the students who wish to continue with the program can continue, and those who may not be comfortable are allowed to pause their education by taking an LOA, or what we call a leave of absence, without losing credits, tuition, or their place in school. We’re here to support with your choice. Additionally, for any course that our students complete online, they will be given the opportunity to retake that course in person—at no additional charge, by the way—once we’re able to resume normal campus operations. That’s our commitment to our students.
Bob: That’s great. I think in this unsettling time, the steady voice that you provide us, Dr. Coyle, is extremely important. I just want everyone to remember that we’re all navigating these very uncharted waters together, and it’s important during these times that we take time to focus on our health and the well-being of ourselves, our families, and our friends. It is also important that we know that together, we can get through this, and we will get through this crisis.
I want to thank Universal Technical Institute for rising to the challenge and serving the needs of our current and future career-based students, and seeking education in the automotive, welding, and CNC trades.
In closing, I want to particularly thank Dr. Coyle for his tireless efforts in helping us put together this program and a lot of the messaging network that’s going out. And I’d like to thank my colleague, Lee Doubleday, who’s done the great job of putting all this stuff together in a very, very short period of time.
And on behalf of Imagine America Foundation, Dr. Coyle, and Lee, we want to wish you the very best. We hope that you will stay safe and take care of your loved ones.