Ashley Smith becomes Faculty Chair of Automotive Technology / ASSET

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Ashley Smith checking a car engine.

HFC faculty member Ashley Smith is the new Faculty Chair of the Automotive Technology/ASSET program at HFC.

“I wanted to give this role a try. I thought this would be a good time, before more instructors in my area retire. I want to lean on them and ask them questions as I navigate this new position. We have to keep this program moving at the pace the industry is moving,” explained Smith, of Plymouth.

Meeting the needs of a constantly evolving industry

Smith reports to HFC Dean of the School of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development Dr. Patricia Chatman. As Faculty Chair, Smith succeeds Kris Young, who remains as the ASSET program coordinator.

“I have some very big shoes to fill. Kris did a wonderful job and has taught me so much in the six years that I have been at HFC,” said Smith. “My goal is to pick up and continue what Kris has done. We want the best program possible, and we want to train students to be the most successful. This industry is constantly evolving and seems even faster now. We have to keep up with this change and give our students proper instruction and great educational experiences here at HFC. It's very rewarding to see students who really value the class, try their hardest, and you get to see the moment when everything seems to click for them. I enjoy working with students who are passionate about the automotive field and working with colleagues to continue to grow our program.”

Generations of mechanics

A native of Ann Arbor and the youngest of two, Smith is a graduate of Salem High School in Plymouth. She attended Grand Valley State University on a golf scholarship, and she earned her bachelor's degree in business administration. She then earned her automotive certification from Grand Rapids Community College, and later, her master’s certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Smith’s interest in cars began at a young age. Her late grandfather, Jay Smith II, owned several transmission shops in the Metro Detroit area. Growing up, she watched her grandfather and her late father, Jay Smith III, repairing cars. Before she knew it, she was assisting them. Then she was repairing cars herself. She and her brother, Jay Smith IV, co-owned Multistate Transmission in Dearborn Heights for six years.

“One of the biggest reasons I went into teaching was because there was a lack of skilled, qualified techs in the field. This is still a problem. My hope is to help with the industry problem by training techs to enter the field with the right skills to be successful,” she explained.

Smith is the first full-time female faculty member in Automotive Technology and now the first female faculty chair.

“I suppose I look at this like other jobs I have had: I never let being a female stop me from doing something I wanted to do," she said. "I also hope to continue to see more women enroll in our program.”

“Ashley has been a fantastic addition as a full-time instructor to both Local 1650 and the Automotive Technology department,” said Young. “She is great with the students and is always looking for ways to improve the program. I look forward to working with her in her new role and look forward to the continued success of the automotive programs at the College.”

Related content: HFC Automotive Technology/ASSET program video