Students learn about automotive engineering


Billy Brooks anxiously waits for a pair of Leander ISD students to arrive at COBB Tuning in North Austin on Feb. 18. Brooks is underprepared and doesn’t really know what to expect when the students arrive.

This is Brooks’ first year participating in Leander ISD’s Career Opportunities on Location (COOL Week) program, which provides students the opportunity for hands-on experience at more than 100 Central Texas businesses. 

Brooks is awaiting Vandegrift seniors  Alexander Tan and Phillip Branca to begin their week of observing COBB Tuning employees on location. Tan and Branca are two of 700 students partaking in COOL Week. 

“We’ve always been looking for bright, talented young students,” Brooks, COBB’s director of engineering said. “When we heard about the COOL opportunity with Leander ISD, we thought it would be another opportunity to potentially see how we can help those students that are looking into mechanical engineering.”

The students are learning a variety of different skill sets and receiving guidance from the employees at COBB. 

“All these experiences are memorable, like seeing how they deal with different situations through the meetings and all the processes they go through,” said Tan. “Just seeing the overall picture here at COBB is really beneficial.”

COBB has prepared a number of activities designed to give the students a sense of working in the automotive engineering industry. 

“We’re having them scan old parts, stock parts in a car, and do some modeling within Solidworks which is a 3D Cad modeling program,” Brooks said. “Then either 3D print a part or use some of our machines to bend or manufacture a part.”

The COOL Week program has been available for Leander ISD seniors for 23 years and Leander ISD’s COOL Week district coordinator Pat Lopez says she expects the program will continue to be available for students in the future.

“ I’ve seen so much impact on both students and business partners,” Lopez said. “COOL Week gives students the chance to “try on” a career before heading off to post-secondary education to pursue it.”

The COOL Week program has made a good first impression with both COBB and Brooks. 

“I think it’s great just that even the school district is allowing students to do this before college,” Brooks said. “I’ve only heard of a college type internship. I’ve never heard of it as a high school internship program before.”

The students at COBB said the training they have received has been useful and beneficial for their future careers. 

“I’m kind of following the family path and I just like building stuff,” Vandegrift student Phillip Branca said. “This will help out in the real world when I get a job.”

According to Brooks, COBB expects to participate in COOL Week again in future years. 

“So far it's been great,” Brooks said. “We’ve found it’s been a great benefit to not only the company, but to the students that participate.”