Tech changes auto department over retiring chair’s 31 years

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Kathyvan Tran

Robert “Bob” Stockero, automotive technology department chair, poses with his 1969 Mustang Fastback on Wednesday, April 12, at the City College auto yard. The classic car is one of the vehicles Stockero will work on restoring during his retirement.

KATHYVAN TRAN, Features Editor

Technology has changed the automotive department in many ways for chair Robert “Bob” Stockero, who has worked at City College for 31 years.

Technology has changed the types of cars students work on.

Technology has changed the way instruction has been taught, by moving all material from books to exclusively online.

And, technology has changed the way Stockero connects with students.

“One of the best things I have found is Facebook,” Stockero said.

Back in the day, when students asked him for a job referral, Stockero would show them a list he kept on a clipboard tucked under his desk in his office.

After discovering Facebook, Stockero now posts job listings online. He’s also found a way to connect with students—current and old—that he’s taught throughout his three-decade career.

Stockero created the SBCC Auto Club group on Facebook. The majority of group members are car enthusiasts and alumni.

“It’s really nice to see them out there successful, making a good living,” Stockero said. “Some of these guys are making a lot of money.”

Soon, Stockero will join the ranks of these social media savvy alum as he prepares to retire this spring as part of the Supplemental Early Retirement Program.

“It’s a big step,” he said. “I’ve worked my whole life.”

In fact, Stockero is also a City College alum, who graduated in 1977 with an associate’s in automotive technology. After graduating from City College, Stockero worked at dealerships like Dodge, Hughe’s Pontiac, Butts Buick, Lincoln Mercury and Chrysler.

In 1983, Stockero worked adjunct at City College in the adult education division. He was then recruited by fellow colleague David Brainerd, who was also part-time at the time, in 1986 to work fulltime after another instructor was unable to work.

The Channels file photo of Robert “Bob” Stockero
The Channels file photo of Robert “Bob” Stockero

Since then, Stockero has done much to grow the small department of only three fulltime faculty, from connecting the school with a smog referee to gaining access to computers for the department. There are now four computers in the Auto Garage where students use the online database to learn the details of every car ever made.

“Bob’s always been about the students,” said second-year automotive student Juan Flores in a phone interview. “He’s always made sure we had the right equipment. I know he made this department better.”

Numerous framed accolades grace the walls of Stockero’s office. They represent the many achievements Stockero has accomplished during his teaching career.

A couple awards include his recognition as “Outstanding College Instructor,” awarded to him in 2000 and 2016 by the California Automotive Teacher Conference. Stockero will travel to Yuba for the Spring 2017 conference April 28 to 30.

“In the field, productivity is measured by how many cars you can fix in a day. Here, it’s how many students can you keep in your class,” Stockero said. “In the industry, the priority is cars. Here, it’s people.”

Stockero consistently tells students to never stop learning. Many changes are taking place within the auto industry and it can be hard to keep up with technology, he said.

“In this industry you have to,” Stockero said. “Technology is changing all the time. If we didn’t continue to come back to class, we’d be relics. Nobody would be able to fix a car.”

Stockero’s motto is further evident in his own education, as he continues to take classes and attend conferences and programs. In 2004, Stockero also graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s in occupational studies, a program he completed online part-time for four years.

After retiring, Stockero said he plans on working around the house, restoring a couple older Mustangs he owns and traveling to Hawaii in September.

“I’m actually looking forward to taking a vacation during school time. I wanna go camping,” he added.

After taking a semester off, Stockero said he plans to return to City College to teach adjunct.

When Stockero’s not busy working on cars or traveling, he’ll certainly be on Facebook, connecting with students.

“I hope that I’ve been a positive role model over the years and provided education for them to get employed,” he said.

Russell Granger, who was hired in Fall 2016, will replace Stockero as department chair. Since his hire, Granger said he has been working alongside Stockero as co-chair to help him transition into his takeover for next year.

“He cares a lot about the college,” Granger said. “He clearly has a vision of a line of success to pass the torch.”

Granger said Brainerd may also retire in Spring 2018, making him the second fulltime instructor in the department to retire in a one/two-year time span.

“I know [Bob] made this department better,” Flores said. “It’s gonna be weird without him.”