On Wednesday, Feb. 4, top executives from the collision repair, tool and equipment manufacturing, and auto insurance industries will gather to celebrate the opening of the new prototype for collision repair education. This new school at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) in North Carolina reflects the cultural shift in the auto industry – bringing collision repair in line with manufacturing that increasingly relies on aluminum, high-strength steel, composites, carbon fiber and advanced computer engineering.
Attendees of this grand opening will get a first look at the 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art collision center, where students will get hands-on experience with late-model cars (courtesy of Enterprise Holdings) and equipment not yet available in most collision repair shops across the country.
Grand opening demonstrations will include:
- New F-150 in aluminum room with an immersion separator wet vacuum with water filtration system for explosive metals.
- BMW i3 or Corvette Z06 representing carbon fiber.
- Honda/Acura uniside for a demo of MIG brazing.
- Unitized structure (all sheet metal removed) on frame machine for measuring and presentation regarding squeeze type resistance spot welding.
- Vehicle set up on the Car-O-Liner jig system to demonstrate measuring system.
- Spraybooths (with water for demo) demonstrating latest waterborne refinish techniques and equipment.
- Tablet estimating/manufacturer procedures.
- Astech scan tool to demonstrate the multiple on-board computer modules that control specific systems.
- Vacuum sanding demonstration.
- Sun Gun paint matching demo to demonstrate color corrective paint match and mixing system.
The school reflects an urgency in the collision repair and auto insurance industries, where a critical skills gap has led to some 180,000 available jobs nationwide projected over the next several years.
The two-year curriculum promises job-ready graduates with technical training in a variety of disciplines, including non-structural cosmetic repairs, aluminum and steel welding, state-of-the-art refinish procedures, and a new focus on body shop and insurance operations. The only school of its kind, the program is heralded as nothing short of a “paradigm shift.”
The program is also cost-effective. While tuition is only $5,500, every graduate leaves the program with $10,000 worth of training and certification in hand, plus guaranteed employment. Wages for job-ready graduates typically start at $40,000 and, with several years’ experience, can quickly grow to a six-figure salary.
FTCC has long been an educational partner with Fort Bragg and its 60,000 base personnel. This program is providing an important avenue for troops transitioning from active duty to civilian careers. Sixty percent of currently enrolled students are veterans or members of the National Guard.
New semesters begin – and end – every eight weeks, offering a flexible course schedule that’s ideal for nontraditional students, while also accommodating a regular and more frequent supply of job-ready graduates.
The curriculum is driven by I-CAR with support of major manufacturers and tool and equipment companies (PPG, 3M, ProSpot, LKQ and Car-O-Liner, to name a few), collision repair chains (Gerber, Caliber, ABRA and Van Tuyl Group), and insurance companies (Nationwide, Allstate, GEICO and State Farm).
To attend the grand opening, email Margee Herring at [email protected] or call (910) 233-2466.