Partnership creates auto program at Carson City prison

Incarcerated auto shop students with WNC, Campagni and NNCC officials.

Incarcerated auto shop students with WNC, Campagni and NNCC officials.

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On Aug. 28, the first group of students incarcerated at Northern Nevada Correctional Center stepped into the NNCC auto bay for their first day of Auto 101, Introduction to General Mechanics offered by Western Nevada College.

It has taken four years and the sustained effort and partnership of Campagni Auto Group, Nevada Department of Corrections, and WNC to reach this point.

Campagni Auto Group approached NDOC in 2019 to express its interest in creating opportunities for formerly incarcerated people with Automotive Service Excellence certifications to apply for positions with the dealership. As with many industries across the region and the country, retiring staff and staffing shortages, in general, have presented challenges for the automotive industry.

Dana Whaley, Carson City Toyota’s former general manager, and others at the Campagni Auto Group in Carson City, recognized that there is a pool of talent that, if trained while incarcerated, could return to the community ready to help rebuild the workforce at their dealership and others around the state.

WNC joined the endeavor to provide the educational pathway. Meanwhile, NDOC secured a grant for $85,000 and purchased up-to-date equipment for the auto bay. Then, in mid-March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a standstill. A little over two years later, in April 2022, after NNCC was able to return to somewhat normal operations, the equipment was installed, and planning was rebooted.

Alex Street, WNCs Auto Mechanics program lead and instructor for the Auto 101 course at NNCC, enjoys working with these students.

The students are working on meeting their general education requirements for the Certificate of Achievement by taking the “Strategies for Academic Success” course this semester. They will also complete six credits in English/communications and three credits of mathematics.

By the end of summer 2024, the first cohort of students should have completed the courses that will prepare them for ASEs in Steering and Suspension, Brakes and Engine Performance.

For information, contact Deb Conrad at 775-445-3302 or email


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