Cloninger Ford Recognizes Two CVCC Students For Work Ethic, Talent

Two CVCC students were recognized with Ford toolboxes after their impressive completion of the Ford ACE training program.


HICKORY, N.C.—On Thursday, November 9th, Cloninger Ford recognized CVCC students Micah Harshbarger and Don Chapman as the first students to complete the 2023 Ford ACE training.

Ford ACE (Automotive Career Exploration) is a web-based training program produced by the Ford Motor Company. This is the same training platform which Ford professionals must complete to become a Ford Certified Technician. Since January, CVCC Automotive Systems Technology students have been encouraged to participate in this program and complete the training modules while they pursue their degree.

As an incentive to participants, Cloninger Ford announced that the first student who completed the Ford ACE training modules would be awarded a full toolbox, valued at $5800. When the results and scores were reviewed, Cloninger determined that both Harshbarger and Chapman were the first students to complete all 85 modules in record time. Because of their hard work and results, Harshbarger and Chapman were both provided their own Cloninger Ford toolbox.

“We brought the toolbox in as an opportunity for these young students to stay involved,” says Mike May of Cloninger Ford. “Last year, unfortunately, we had nobody qualify to win [the toolbox]. This year, [Harshbarger and Chapman] completed 85 modules in about one week.”

Their completion rate is historic—it is not only a testament to Harshbarger and Chapman’s committed talents, but it also reflects the educational experiences offered through the CVCC Automotive Systems program.

Shawn Mull, who serves as the Department Head of Automotive Systems Technology at CVCC, has been an advocate of the Cloninger/Ford ACE partnership from day one. “The Ford ACE Program is an excellent opportunity for our students to get a head start on their career,” says Mull. “I believe that offering the toolbox shows the commitment that the folks at Cloninger have to new technicians who are entering the workforce. And, through their hard work, our students Micah and Don have developed a strong work ethic that will bring them success in the automotive industry.”

In addition to Ford ACE, Cloninger Ford continues to support CVCC students of all levels through the college’s Catawba Apprenticeship Network (CAN). JD Abee, of Cloninger Ford, attended the CAN graduation as guest speaker. He shared the great accomplishments of the automotive apprentices and all Catawba Apprenticeship Network graduates.

“It’s been phenomenal for Cloninger to partner with CVCC, not just to get involved, but to stay active,” says Abee.

The company was proud to report that six CVCC students currently hold apprenticeships at Cloninger Ford facilities. These six apprentices also received their own versions of the Automotive toolboxes. “They go to school here every day,” May explains, “and our obligation is to help with their tuition, tools, and supply them with a job during their time at CVCC.”

CVCC looks forward to the ways this partnership will leave a lasting impact on students, employers, and the local Automotive industry.

For more information about the Automotive Systems Technology program at CVCC, please contact Shawn Mull, Department Head, at or call (828) 327-7000 ext. 4209. For more information about the Catawba Apprenticeship Network at CVCC, please contact Christy Lefevers, Associate Dean of Workforce Connectivity, at or call 828-327-7000 ext. 4308.


Pictured Above, Left-Right: Don Chapman Micah Harshbarger, Mark Cline, Mike May, and JD Abee gather at the Automotive Systems Lab in the CVCC Workforce Solutions Complex.


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