When learning a trade, whether cosmetology, woodwork, shoe repair or auto mechanics, students need hands-on experience in addition to classroom instruction.In order to get that authentic apprentice-type training, students need to work with actual customers or products to make the learning exercises real and, thus, more effective.One Fort Worth school program got a major boost when the City Council agreed to partner with the school district to occasionally supply vehicles for automotive technology classes, giving students the opportunity to work on real mechanical problems rather than hypothetical or obsolete ones.With technology in the automobile industry constantly changing, it's important that instructors have proper tools -- up-to-date vehicles, in this case -- to help prepare youngsters for real workplace situations.There was a time when auto manufacturers supplied school districts with vehicles to use for instruction, but those contributions greatly declined with the downturn in the economy.The city's massive vehicle fleet will help fill that void as city mechanics diagnose cars and trucks and send them to the five high schools with automotive technology classes: Trimble Tech, North Side, O.D. Wyatt, Dunbar and Polytechnic. The city also will provide the parts and tools, and its personnel will review the students' work.The council already approved the partnership, and the Fort Worth school board is expected to vote on it Jan. 15, Star-Telegram city hall writer Scott Nishimura reported Wednesday.The deal should save the city money on repairs, and Fort Worth students will get valuable training that can lead to automotive technician certification.They can learn skills for working on their own vehicles. It would be nice if the city and school district can find more ways like this to collaborate.Battle of the brainiacsThey're calling today's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, featuring the U.S. Air Force Academy and Rice University, "The battle for air supremacy."But back in early December, Rice Athletic Director Rick Greenspan used the term "revenge of the nerds." He was referring to the number of schools with reputations for stout academics playing post-season football. (bit.ly/YqjjPi)Rice and Air Force both barely qualified for bowl games with 6-6 regular-season records. But after you wade through the stats about fourth-down conversions, blocked punts and pass-completion percentages, here are some figures really worth touting:Rice's football team had a graduation rate of 93 percent (100 percent for African-American players), according to an NCAA report in the fall.Among Division I teams in the Football Bowl Series, both Rice and Air Force made the top 10 in 2012 for Academic Progress Rate, an NCAA multi-year measurement that takes into account player eligibility based on grades plus progress toward graduation. Rice was sixth with an APR score of 986; Air Force tied for 10th with a 980 APR.The Division I average for all sports was 973, and for all Division I football teams it was 948, the NCAA reported.Texas Christian University, which is playing in Tempe tonight in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, had a 973 APR. (A searchable database is here: web1.ncaa.org/maps/aprRelease.jsp)Of course, the teams' academic prowess speaks nothing about the Owls' and Falcons' fans. They'll no doubt be tailgating early and often outside Amon G. Carter Stadium before the 10:45 a.m. Armed Forces Bowl kickoff -- even though the temperature's supposed to be 26 at daybreak.Sometimes, enthusiasm wins over all.