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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 21:53

Oklahoma Schools Teaching Collision Repair Proudly Represent the Sooner State

Four Oklahoma collision repair programs exemplify the state’s commitment to quality vocational education.

Francis Tuttle Technology Center in the northwest Oklahoma City metro area offers a NATEF-accredited curriculum including basic and advanced training aligned with I-CAR advanced instruction for estimating damages, repair procedures and finishing vehicles. The school has offered the program since the early 1980s.

“As the automotive collision repair industry is ongoing and ever-changing, Francis Tuttle trains future technicians to be adaptable to new technologies, procedures and materials,” says Dennis Moore, instructor in the Automotive Collision Repair Technology program.


Students may select one-year full time or two-year part-time programs. The student-instructor ratio is approximately 18:1.

Students have the option of three majors: Refinishing, 645 hours; Non-Structural Repair, 600 hours; or Structural Repair, 1,035 hours. They can earn multiple certifications and up to 30 credit hours toward an associate’s of applied science degree offered through Oklahoma City Community College.

“The curriculum is self-paced, which allows students with prior knowledge or related work experience to advance more rapidly,” Moore notes. Adult students can attend full time or both daily sessions, so they can complete the curriculum and begin their careers more quickly. High school students who live in the district attend tuition-free.

In addition to technical training, the program assists students to develop leadership and personal skills necessary for improved employment opportunities through WorkKeys and portfolio development. SkillsUSA also plays a significant role in leadership development, Moore explains.

One former student, Derek Rogers, says: “Best of all, it was fun and challenging and helped me prepare for a career in something I love doing.” Living in Yukon, OK, he works as a painter at Car Craft Auto Body in Bethany, OK.

In Norman, the Moore Norman Technology Center provides secondary and postsecondary students with NATEF-certified programs covering all aspects of collision repair, including structural, nonstructural, refinishing, mechanical and electrical. The program began in 1978.

“One of our goals is to prepare our students for the paint and body and collision field or higher education, and I feel we have had success doing that,” says Joe Booker, an instructor at Moore Norman. “Our placement rate is over 85%.”

Assisting Booker, who is ASE- and ICAR certified, are one ASE- and I-CAR-certified instructor and an assistant.

Secondary and post-secondary students can receive 15 credit hours. Post-secondary students can complete the program in one year, secondary students two-years.

“All of our students are Skills USA members, with 100% participation,” Booker says.

One of his former students, David Venard, a Moore, OK, resident, worked about six years in the collision field while attending college, and now teaches at Canadian Valley Tech Center in El Reno, OK.

The Collision Repair program is at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, a technical branch campus of Oklahoma State University in Okmulgee.

The program offers a two-year, 81-credit six-semester Associate in Applied Science degree program, which features paid internships and I-CAR certifications for students. Students rotate through three paid internships of two months each during their second year in the program. Accredited by NATEF, the program offers I-CAR certifications to students at a reduced rate.

“Because the program is designed to convert those internships into permanent employment at graduation, our placement rate is nearly 100%,” says Bill Voorhees, division chair, Automotive Technologies. Stevon Gregory is the assistant division chair.

The Automotive Technologies Division also has five automotive service technology programs: MOPAR CAP (Chrysler); Ford ASSET; GM ASEP; Toyota T-TEN; and Pro-Tech (Independent Service Centers).

Three faculty members teach the Collision Repair program: Geoffrey Constantine,  Kelly Ingold, and John Pemberton. The annual enrollment is about 50 students.

OSU Institute of Technology opened as Oklahoma A & M Tech in October of 1946 as a technical branch campus of Oklahoma A & M College, serving returning veterans from World War II. Auto Collision Repair was one of the original programs.

The Collision Repair program hosts the state of Oklahoma SkillsUSA hands-on competition. The contest is held in the program’s shops and labs totaling more than 22,000 square feet. Approximately 50 student contestants compete annually from Oklahoma’s Career and Technology Centers in both secondary and post-secondary categories.

Ignacio Trujillo, a four-year employee of Bodyworks Collision Center in Oklahoma City, attended OSU Institute of Technology during 2005-2007.

OSU benefited him in numerous ways. “The instructors showed me that there was more to the profession than just applying body filler and paint. I got hands-on experience on the importance of straightening the structure of a vehicle as well.” Trujillo was also certified in I-CAR welding.

“I also was taught the basics of reading and writing an estimate and writing a supplement,” he adds, while noting that after graduating he specialized in painting.

“I still use everything I learned every day. I always take the extra step and look over the area to see if it looks right before applying the proper undercoats and painting it. OSU taught me to treat every vehicle as if it was a family car; in other words, you wouldn’t fix your mother’s car half fast knowing that she drives every day,” he says. “You would fix it back to its original state.”

Tulsa Tech maintains its Collision Refinish Repair Technician Program at the school’s Broken Arrow campus. Founded in 1965, the school was one of the original Oklahoma Career Tech centers.

The collision-repair course began in 1975 and is accredited by NATEF, ODCTE and the Southern Region Educational Board. “We have been a NATEF-certified school teaching collision/refinish, automotive and medium/heavy truck for over 25 years,” says Leo Van Delft, the school’s Transportation Program coordinator.

The program is 1,050 hours in duration and can be completed by secondary students in two years; it is also offered in a 10-month program for adults who attend full time. Currently, 72 students are enrolled. “The partnership between industry and education has been instrumental in maintaining progressive programs that fulfill up-to-date training needs,” Van Delft says.

Tulsa Tech recently consolidated its transportation programs, which were formally on four campuses, into a new 240,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility.

“We have expanded our transportation programs including an alternative fuel program to accommodate high school and adult students with 18 instructors,” he explains.

The instructors are Tom Owens, collision instructor–secondary; Brian Buford, refinish instructor — secondary and post-secondary; and Jerry Flaming, collision instructor — post secondary.

Students are encouraged to join Skills USA and are actively involved in leadership and skills competitions in addition to professional development training. Tulsa Tech has hosted several state competitions, Van Delft says.

One student, A.J. Faber, returned to Tulsa Tech after spending six years in the Air Force. “A.J. was looking to develop the skills to help him acquire a job in a related field, leaning toward the customization of automobiles,” he explains.

“I attended class full time and graduated in one school year,” Faber reports. “While at school late one day, a gentleman came into the class and started talking with Mr. Buford about a job for a student to start installing vinyl graphics on new cars. I went and interviewed for the job and got it. I have worked for the shop for two years now and do vinyl installation and prep body panels to be painted when the paint shop is busy.”


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