De Anza offers first baccalaureate degree5 min read

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Andrea Saldana

De Anza College’s automotive workshop displays purple car on Oct. 13.

Andrea Saldana

De Anza College has won formal approval for its first baccalaureate degree — a Bachelor of Science in automotive technology management.

Projected to begin by 2024, the program will be offered completely online in order to be accessible to students throughout the Bay Area and out of state. 

Automotive Technology Department Chair Dave Capitolo said that the main objective behind creating this new bachelor’s program is for it to be accessible and affordable for students. 

Diego Castillo, 20, automotive major standing with his arms crossed his arms in the automotive workshop. “De Anza is insanely hands on with new technology, new releases and it just keeps on growing,” Castillo said.

“This is an affordable way to earn a bachelor’s degree,” Capitolo said. “One of the biggest things for us wanting to do this is because we want to make it more accessible — we will have students that have never thought of wanting a bachelor’s degree because maybe nobody in their family has attended college. This is an affordable way to earn a bachelor’s degree.”

Capitolo said that the bachelor’s degree will cost upwards of $11,000 per student for the full four year program, with financial assistance from financial aid and various scholarships. 

De Anza will be the first of its kind to offer this type of program, as no other community college in California offers a four-year degree in automotive technologies with an emphasis in business management.

“There are others in other states that offer a four year degree; some of them are technical in nature, some of them are management in nature,” Capitolo said. “We think our biggest advantage is the ability to offer ours fully online.”

Dean of Business, Computer Science and Applied Technologies Moaty Fayek co-wrote the proposal for the baccalaureate degree alongside Capitolo. Fayek said that here in Silicon Valley, the automotive industry is one of the most demanding markets. According to Capitolo, De Anza’s automotive program has had a close relationship with businesses in the area since 1967. 

“There is a market need. One of the things that is required to submit the [baccalaureate degree proposal], we have to provide local and state national data that there is a demand and where it was demanding was business management,” Fayek said. “If you look at graduates who have completed the certificate for their associate degree or a student who wants to work for the industry, their chances of getting those positions are very limited, and by doing that we are opening new opportunities.” 

Rene Edwin Lopez, 51, automotive major standing and crossing his arms in the automotive workshop. “I wish we had this before because I know that there is a lot of people that they want to have a bachelor’s degree but unfortunately we didn’t have this before, and now that we are going to have it it is going to be a real beautiful opportunity for people who want a bachelors degree at De Anza,” Lopez said.

Rene Edwin Lopez, 51, automotive technology major, has been attending De Anza for four years now. Lopez hopes to open his own automotive business; however, he had to consider moving to Utah to complete his bachelor’s in automotive technology. 

With the news of De Anza having its own program, Lopez now has the opportunity to stay and pursue his goals. 

“I wish we had this before because I know that there are a lot of people that want to have a bachelor’s degree,” Lopez said. “And now that we are going to have it, it is going to be a really beautiful opportunity for people who want a bachelor’s degree at De Anza.”

Discussions surrounding the idea of starting a bachelor’s program in automotive technology began in 2014 to 2015. It wasn’t until 2021, specifically during the holidays, that chancellor Judy Miner called the department of automotive technology and said that it was their opportunity to start working on the proposal for the Board of Governors for California Community Colleges.

The approval was then brought on from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento (CCCO). 

According to Capitolo,  the new program was designed to be directed to those who have finished their associate degree in  automotive technology or students fresh out of high school who would be working towards a four-year degree. The program will include a wide variety of areas that deal with business management in the automotive industry.

Since the announcement, students like Diego Castillo, 20, automotive major, who are currently involved in the automotive program, are excited for the new opportunities and education they will soon be able to take advantage of. 

Gerilowie Escalona, 40, automotive major standing with his arms crossed on Oct 13 in the automotive workshop. “It will change the lives of students here. It will definitely change my life as well,” Escalona said. (Andrea Saldana)

Castillo currently works for the City of San Jose as a mechanical assistant and says that taking courses here at De Anza has helped him at his job.  

“De Anza is insanely hands on with new technology, new releases and it just keeps on growing,” Castillo said.

The department is still in the process of writing the curriculum, which will then be submitted through the curriculum approval process. Other than the curriculum, the department has to create a Student Services office specifically for this bachelors program.

The program will also have an application process for students to complete in order to be considered candidates for the program. 

Gerilowie Escalona, 40, an automotive major, has been attending De Anza since 2000 and has been an advocate for the automotive program. 

“It will change the lives of students here. It will definitely change my life as well,” Escalona said. “And if I can stay in this field and get a bachelor’s degree here it fills up that bucket list, that I actually completed what I wanted to have ever since I was a kid.”