Originally published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 10:52a.m.

POLACCA, Ariz.— Universal Technical Institute (UTI) may be a student’s dream because they get to work on cars, do not have to attend academic classes and most get good paying jobs after they graduate.

They also might to get to see or ride in one of Nicholas Cage’s sports cars. Representatives from UTI recently visited Hopi High School, gave a presentation, recruited students and displayed one of Cage’s former cars. It turns out Cage’s brother-in-law attended UTI, so Cage donated a car to them. Hopi High students posed with the car and some were allowed to get behind the wheel.

UTI has 12 campuses throughout the country, including one in Avondale. This campus offers manufacturer specific training for Ford, GM, BMW and Volvos, along with other companies. Once the students are trained on specific company cars, they can go to work for those companies after they graduate.

Students have good chances for landing jobs because there is a shortage of technicians. There are about 1,400 students at the Avondale campus and they have had many Native American graduates. Navajos, Hopis and Apaches are among those who have graduated from UTI. There are no academic classes at UTI and the dropout rate is low. He said some of the graduates took jobs with the school districts where they graduated and today they are working on fixing the buses.

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Hopi High student April Quanimptewa gets behind the wheel where Nicolas Cage once sat. She did not get to drive the car. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

Over 250,000 students have graduated from UTI over several decades.

Adam Moore, an admission representative at UTI, gave a presentation to some of the students, showing them that today’s mechanics are called technicians because they work more with computers than with wrenches and screwdrivers.

“We place four of every five students who graduates with jobs,” he said.

Moore said before a student is accepted into UTI, a representative meets with the parents to make sure it will work because they have to show their placement rate to the industry.

“Our tuition is lifetime, meaning they can come back and retake the course at any time for no cost,” he said.

Moore said UTI will also help graduates find employment throughout their careers.

The UTI programs take one and a half to two years depending which program the student decides to enter. Tuition is about $19,000 per year, but there is everything from scholarships to financial aid to pay for the tuition.

The programs include automotive, diesel, collision repair, welding and marine. The marine study gives the technicians the chance to work on boats.

UTI students work five hours a day five days a week without any breaks for summer, spring break or other holiday breaks like most schools.

Moore has been working at UTI for about 12 years, but before that he was a history teacher and coach so he relates to students. His wife’s uncle worked at UTI and talked him into visiting the campus. The rest was history. Moore said he always enjoys visiting Hopi.

“It’s a nice break from Phoenix,” he said.

UTI also has two campus for those who want to work on motorcycles; one of those campuses is in Phoenix.

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