Japanese auto students learn the tricks of their trade

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Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]

Photo credit: Gabi Campbell | Art Director | @gabicampbellphotos

A group of students from Saitama, Japan are learning auto skills and getting a taste of Utah food and culture this July in a special automotive course held in the GT Building.

The course, which runs for two weeks starting July 7, is part of a study abroad program between UVU and Saitama Technical College. The program includes four, two-day sections: custom painting, welding, panel fabrication and automotive specialty.

Cris Boggess is the instructor for the panel fabricating section. He said he’s been involved with the exchange program for over 13 years.

Students in his class use hammers to pound flat sheets of metal into graceful curves.

He said they are just learning the basics. Essentially, they are learning skills that could allow them to fabricate body parts for a car by hand.

He said students often don’t realize what they can do with metal.

“They can take a flat piece of metal and form it into anything they want,” said Boggess, “It’s amazing what you can do with a piece of metal.”

Risa Manaka is one of eight women in the group of 80 students. Through the help of interpreter, Jessica Nichols, Manaka said she’s taking the course because her family owns a mechanic shop.

“In Japan, they don’t teach us about metal fabrication. We just learn about the engine,” Manaka said.

Kenji Sugizaki said he came to Utah out of curiosity. He wanted to experience the culture and see how things are done differently in the auto shops here. He said he has learned painting skills that he wouldn’t be able to learn in Japan.

The program is largely a cultural exchange. While they are in Orem, students live with local host families.

In addition to the auto classes the students will take a trip to Moab to do some sightseeing.