Eleven high school graduates and students were honored in a special recognition ceremony on July 23, 2015 for completing the annual Hawai‘i High School Auto Academy.

The program sponsored by First Hawaiian Bank targets both public and private high school students, interested in the automotive industry.  They participate in an unpaid internship at a Cutter dealership in the mornings, then attend classes at Honolulu CC in the afternoon, five days a week for six weeks to total 120 classroom hours.  Upon successful completion of the program the students receive four college credits towards an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Automotive Technology.


“This program not only exposes high school students to the automotive industry, but it gives them a unique opportunity to experience a college level learning environment,” explains Honolulu CC Chancellor, Erika Lacro. “We are teaching them transferable skills that will translate in any workplace.” 

“This year our students came from high schools across the state – ‘Aiea, Kalani, McKinley, Punahou, St. Louis, Wai‘anae, Waipahu,” says Automotive Instructor Warren Takata. “Students enjoyed their experience this summer and some are really excited to start their post-secondary studies at the Community Colleges.”

Seven students have enrolled in the University of Hawai‘i Community College system.  Four are enrolled in the Honolulu CC Automotive Technology program.  There are two students returning to high school to complete their senior year and the remaining two students are undecided with their future plans.

Graduates of the program have gone on to pursue higher education obtaining their degree in automotive technology,  or in other industry fields, such as, business, culunary, refrigeration and air conditioning, aeronautics, liberal Arts, or welding to name a few.  Many of the completers of the program are now employed with a Cutter Dealership.

The innovative summer program began as a collaborative partnership between Honolulu Community College, First Hawaiian Bank, Waipahu High School and the Cutter Automotive Group in response to a shortage of trained workers in the automotive technology industry.  Participating Cutter dealerships are:  Dodge Ala Moana, Mazda Ala Moana, Chevy Ala Moana, Ford ‘Aiea, Dodge Pearl City, GMC Waipahu, Mazda Waipahu. 

“We are grateful for the generous monetary contribution from First Hawaiian Bank to sustain the program for over a decade, and we are thankful to our partners at the Cutter Automotive Group for giving these students a valuable workforce experience,” says Takata.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, the bank has contributed over $125,000, which covers the cost of tuition, tools and supplies.  

Honolulu Community College’s Automotive Technology program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and has maintained that status since 1993.

 View the photo gallery: https://www.flickr.com/gp/honolulucc/9HG739