Meet the Auto Body Instructor: Brian Cobb

Meet the Auto Body Instructor: Brian Cobb

Brian Cobb, collision repair instructor and department chair at Coastal Carolina Community College, works extremely hard to make inroads with the local industry and is starting to see that there are people who want to work in collision repair.

Brian Cobb is the collision repair instructor and department chair at Coastal Carolina Community College (CCC) in Jacksonville, N.C. He is in his third year instructing a 41-credit hour, one-year diploma course. The school offers programs in non-structural damage, plastic repair, specialty finishes and detailing. In the future, Cobb hopes to expand the program to include night courses focusing on restoration and customization. He’s excited and inspired that most of his students come from Camp Lejeune and a nearby air station.

“They’re naturally very goal-focused and process-oriented,” Cobb says of those students. “Their dedication, work ethic, determination and drive make them great candidates for this hands-on learning environment.” 

This Monday-to-Friday course also introduces transportation tech, shop safety, basic tool intro, lift safety and SP2 safety training. Cobb has 15 students finishing this year, 50% of whom are veterans. He uses the PDP EE curriculum and an online program through Cengage, giving students a year’s access to the program for one fee. 

Making Inroads

Cobb works extremely hard to make inroads with the local industry and is starting to see that there are people who want to work in collision repair — it’s just that the industry may need to look outside what the normal tech may be.

Cobb is a big supporter of women in his program. Each year, the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) awards scholarships to women coming into the industry. This year, two of the 20 award winners were representatives of Coastal Carolina Community College and the program Cobb has poured his heart into. 

Collision Career

Cobb graduated from a vocational program in Newburn, N.C., on a Friday and started his collision repair career a week later. He started in the paint shop and worked as a collision tech from 2003 to 2020 until he came to Coastal Carolina Community College. He has an advisory board with four members but said support from the local area is hard to keep, noting how busy everyone is running collision repair facilities. He has received offers from industry people who are not shops owners or managers to be advisors, but he still finds it difficult to maintain regularity with the board. Being a member of the Carolinas Collision Association (CCA) has been a great way to meet industry people, Cobb says, but he still wishes he had more contacts in the area. 

Program Growth

Cobb’s program is still growing, and he needs newer model cars to work on and a “hot spot” or separate network to allow him to run the CCC program effectively — the reason being that the school’s firewall hinders the program. Interestingly, this is something I’ve heard from other schools around the country. Cobb is now at the point where he needs additional space to grow the program further. In November, he received a classroom makeover grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation and has been going strong ever since. 

Cobb says that there is “tremendous opportunity to recruit right now, and I need more shops involved to show the students the potential of what is out there.” This continues the trend I’ve seen each month writing the “Meet the Instructor” feature: The industry needs people in a major way, and we can all do a better job having an active presence in our local schools to identify their needs.

Cape Fear, a local Chief distributor, has been instrumental in helping Cobb secure equipment. Kittrell’s Auto Parts, a local PPG vendor, has also been helpful. The CCA has been supportive and recently committed to sending a tech to the school to help with training. If you’re local, think about reaching out to Cobb to see where you help. It can be something simple but will mean the world to his students and program. 

When not teaching or promoting his program, Cobb enjoys spending time with his bride of eight years, Leslie, who is a state-licensed social worker and a faith-based substance abuse and mental health clinician. Together, they share five children and three grandchildren.

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