Above, L.A. Unified officials join community partners in a ceremony to mark the completion of the Harbor Occupational Center Fort MacArthur Automotive Training Center.

The San Pedro and Harbor Occupational Center communities celebrated Wednesday, as L.A. Unified marked the completion of a $5 million, state-of-the-art automotive training facility.

School Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Located in the Fort MacArthur Historic District, the facility was designed to complement its historic surroundings and prepare students for careers in the automotive industry. The new auto shop features lift bays for under-car repairs, a dynamometer for smog checks, an alignment rack and fixed tooling.

“My sincerest appreciation to L.A. Unified Facilities for a job well done on this state-of-the-art auto repair education center,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “As we work to expand our career and technical-training opportunities for our students, we must look to centers like this in San Pedro on how to get the job done.”

The automotive program was housed for about 30 years in a warren of warehouses and sheds known as the San Pedro Skills Center. When the District needed the site to build South Region High School No. 15, the automotive program was relocated to new quarters about 200 yards away. Although it was constructed with modern and durable building materials, the center’s façade and design features reflect the historic barracks at Fort MacArthur, a former Army post that dates back to 1916, and is constructed with modern and durable building materials.

“The state-of-the-art facility at Fort MacArthur will offer students relevant technical education training that is necessary to enter and be successful in the workforce,” said Harbor Occupational Center Principal Sonya Ramirez. “The hands-on training with the latest industry equipment will give students the knowledge and experience needed to become professional automotive technicians.”

Facilities Chief Mark Hovatter shows off the state-of-the-art automotive equipment.

The automotive center will be operated by the Division of  Adult and Career Education (DACE), with classes beginning on Jan. 22. Community members can enroll in the program, and can also benefit from low-cost service repairs performed by students as part of their hands-on training.

“DACE appreciates the strong support of the District, especially Dr. Vladovic, for supporting lifelong educational opportunities for children, young adults, and older adults as they pursue high quality career technical education training,” said DACE Executive Director Joseph Stark. “This new training facility will connect our learners to the high-demand careers in the transportation sector.”

Facilities Chief Mark Hovatter said the automotive program brings together academic and technical skills.

“When I was in high school we would be asked to decide if we want a career in the trades,” Hovatter said. “Now you have to understand and be able to apply technology and be able to master a trade. With this new facility and our quality instructional staff, our students will be prepared to do just that.”

For information about enrolling in the Harbor Occupational Center Fort MacArthur Automotive Training Program, call (310) 241-4800.