This school in Tempe doesn’t have a football team, cheerleaders or a marching band. But it does provide an unusual service in a world of high-tech education: teaching its students to provide mobile entertainment.
“Our students learn how to install all the latest in mobile electronics,” said Tom Gazda, 46, founder and president of Mobile Dynamics, a private school at 415 S. 48th St., Tempe.
Mobile Dynamics occupies 12,000-square feet of space in the commercial-industrial area bordering Tempe and Phoenix.
Gazda of Scottsdale opened the school in a smaller facility in 1995 in Phoenix, then moved to the larger quarters five years ago.
It is the only school of its kind in the United States and one of only two mobile electronic training schools in North America, according to Gazda. The other was started in 1990 by Gazda and his business partner, Derek Lee, in Toronto. Lee still directs the Toronto school.
“We’re looking at opening a third school in Tampa, Fla., in the near future,” said Gazda, whose background includes working for more than 10 years installing audio products in Canada before entering the field of education.
More than 80 percent of the students at the Tempe school are from out of state, Gazda said, and many come from foreign countries.
Students are mostly young men who attend classes 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week for eight weeks before receiving a certificate from the Mobile Electronics Certified Professional Association.
Among the skills they learn are installing remote-control devices in vehicles, audio systems in vehicles and buildings, vehicle cameras, DVD players and satellite radios and dishes.
The school is licensed by the Arizona State Board of Education for private vocational training and, combined with the Toronto school, has to date trained more than 4,700 students in consumer electronics.
“We’re officially the largest and oldest school in the car audio installation industry,” Gazda said.
Cost for the eight weeks of training is $6,000 per student, and does not include living expenses.
Most of the out-of-state students stay at nearby hotels that offer reduced rates or apartments with dormitory-style housing, he said.
Gazda said one of his biggest customers, Best Buy, worked with Mobile Dynamics to establish an internal training program for its employees.
In addition, the school is developing a training program for future students at DeVry University in Phoenix.
“Most of our students get good-paying jobs immediately after graduating,” said Gazda, who has six instructors at the Tempe school teaching two classes with more than 20 students in each class.
“As technology grows in the audio and auto industry, the demand for trained equipment installers is also growing,” said Gazda, who traces his interest in technology back to his teens when he got a summer job as a car audio installer in London, Ontario.
“It’s no longer called, ‘car audio,’” said Gazda. “Today, it’s mobile entertainment.”
Gazda and his family, including his parents and younger brother, George, 42, who lives in Ahwatukee Foothills and is the school’s general manager, fled Russian tanks entering Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic and Slovakia, when Tom Gazda was 8 years old and George was 4. The family moved to Vienna, then Toronto where Gazda and Lee opened the their first Mobile Dynamics school in May 1990. Gazda moved to the Valley in 1995 to open the second school. For information, call (480) 557-0674, 1 (800) 610-2122 or visit www.mobiledynamics.com