Pueblo-based automotive tech program provides an affordable option for students

The Pueblo Community College Automotive Technology program will begin training on electric vehicles in the fall of 2023
Pueblo based automotive tech program provides an affordable option for students
Posted at 4:33 AM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 09:37:08-04

PUEBLO, Colo. — The cost of college has steadily increased during the last 30 years. Forbes says the cost of a public four year college increased by more than $6,000 in that time. Right now more than half of our college graduates are leaving school with debt, but one local program is working to provide a more affordable alternative.

The combined federal and private student loan debt in our country is an expensive number. According to Forbes it’s $1.75 trillion. Forbes says in Colorado the average loan balance is $35,932.11. the cost of college is a major factor that’s driving interest in trade programs that can help students get to work faster without as much debt.

”It’s affordable and we can get you in and out in under two years and you don’t have to leave home to do it,” said James Cordova who leads the Automotive Technology Program at Pueblo Community College.

A graduate of the program himself, Cordova has dedicated his life to elevating the program and helping students set their sights on the highly skilled jobs that are needed in the evolving automotive industry.

”We are not sending out your traditional lube technicians or your entry level positions we want to give our students an opportunity to come out of our program certified to be able to set themselves up with the higher earning potential in the long run,” said Cordova.

Noelle Ulibarri-Nava is a recent graduate of the program.

”I just love putting all my hard work into a product and seeing it. Once you turn that key and being able to hear it and knowing that’s where it’s supposed to be. That brings a lot of joy to me and helps me push toward my goals in the automotive industry,” said Ulibarri-Nava.

Getting a tour of the PCC garages, News5 learned the program is set to be one of the first community colleges in the country to begin electric vehicle training in the fall.

Cordova says being able to certify students on site and adding things like this to the program has led to increased demand for enrollment, especially from women like Noelle who is now ready to start her career.

”I’m looking at maybe working at a dealership or an independent shop, but eventually I would like to open up my own shop. You don’t see very many opened up by women, so I’m trying to break that box and break that barrier and work my way up,” said Ulibarra-Nava.

Cordova says as long as you can pass a background check and submit the proper paperwork you can be eligible for this program, even if you don’t have much experience with working on vehicles.

”Be a hands on individual that is highly technical that wants to use critical thinking and problem solving and develop those skillsets, it can be a very rewarding career,” said Cordova.

Ulibarra-Nava tells me she always had an interest in cars, but a big factor in her decision to enroll in this program was the potential financial strain for her family if she went away to a four year college and the thought of having student loan debt hanging over her head for more than 20 years.

She’s now ready to work without those challenges.

If you’d like more information about the Pueblo Community College Automotive Technology Program just visit


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