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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 18:22

Part 2: Western Schools Prep the Future of Collision Repair

Last month in Autobody News, we ran a story about two schools in Arizona and California that are prepping for the future in the industry. That article focused on two schools, The East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa, AZ, and the Universal Technical Institute in Sacramento, CA.

This month, we highlight other educational programs in the West — Arizona, Nevada and California — that are providing outstanding preparation for careers in the collision repair industry.

In Arizona, a number of high school collision programs are working toward NATEF certification, explains Mike McAfee, director of Education for the Phoenix-based Arizona Auto Dealers Association (AADA). He is also state manager for Automotive Youth Education Systems (AYES).

McAfee notes that AADA works with the Arizona Department of Education, specifically its Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, providing job shadowing and internship opportunities for collision as well as mechanical automotive students. “The organization also sits on many automotive advisory boards at the secondary and post-secondary levels, serving as a business and industry representative and partnering with our educational institutions,” he says.

Those high schools are Paradise Valley High School, Paradise Valley; Phoenix Metro Tech, Phoenix; Tucson High School and Sunnyside High School, both Tucson. “Most of the high schools I’m familiar with use the I-CAR curriculum for collision, which is continuously updated to include the latest industry standards,” says McAfee, noting that Yavapai College in Prescott, north of Phoenix, is also pursuing NATEF certification.

Another post-secondary program in Phoenix is Maricopa Skill Center, a division of GateWay Community College, one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. Maricopa County includes Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale and other municipalities.

Celebrating its 50th year, MSC offers Auto Body Basic Metal Repair and/or Refinishing among 30 other vocational training certificates, explains, Kristina Scott, manager of marketing and recruitment services for the school.

This year, two instructors teach 25 students in an open-entry/open-exit program, so students can enroll anytime during the year. “Due to the flexibility and our competency-based programs, students can also graduate at any point during the year once they demonstrate that they have the skills necessary for today’s workforce,” Scott says.

The Maricopa Skill Center is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Successful completion of the program also ensures that graduates will leave with I-CAR points in six areas, in addition to their certificate of completion from Maricopa Skill Center.

“Our instructional team works with advisory councils to determine what industry wants from their employees and ensures that our programs offer exactly what an employer is looking for,” she says. “The goal is to get students the training they need in a short period of time so that they can quickly get back into the workforce.”

Students choose between Basic Metal Repair or Refinishing or do both. “Our students gain experience in welding, pushing out dents, repairing plastic bumpers, and removing and installing bolted-on parts,” she explains.

All MSC programs are short-term certificate-training programs that take about a year or less to complete. On average, a full-time Auto Body Basic Metal Repair student will complete the program in 27 weeks. If a student is pursuing a certificate in Basic Metal Repair and Refinishing, the average time is 48 weeks, she says.

Nevada, California Programs

In Nevada, the Carson City campus of Western Nevada College has two classes scheduled for the fall 2012 semester: Automotive Collision I and Automotive Refinishing I, says Edward Martin, chairman of the WNC Technology Division.

Current NATEF certifications are in brakes, steering and suspension, electrical and engine performance.

Also at the secondary and post-secondary level, the California Central County Occupational Center in San Jose is NATEF-and ASE-certified in Collision Repair and Refinishing.

As a Career Technical Education Center, CCOC attracts both high school and adult students with approximately 30-40 annual graduates of the two-year program.

Students are not placed from the school but are often referred to job opportunities when available, explains Nathan Chukes, auto body refinishing instructor and the advisor for the AYES Program for collision repair.

“We educate students with the intent that they will be prepared for entry-level work in collision repair,” says Chukes.

“Our curriculum covers auto body industry standards that will give students the skills needed to keep up with the demand of a high-energy shop.”

CCOC is the only school that offers collision repair in six school districts in the South Bay area, Chukes says, noting that the program has been offered for more than 35 years.
In the last five years, CCOC students have won three gold medals and one silver for refinishing and two gold and one silver medal for repair at the SkillsUSA state championship competition.

One of California’s recently started programs, Collision/Refinishing Technology, is offered at the Sacramento campus of WyoTech, which debuted the progra in October 2006.

Two other WyoTech campuses, Laramie, WY and Blairsville, PA, have the Collision/Refinishing Technology program, following the same structure. The program includes Collision I and II and Refinishing I and II.

Students learn MIG welding, external sheet metal straightening, body filler usage and abrasives, bolt-on panel replacement and alignment as well as disassembly and reassembly processes.

In the mechanical repair section, students learn about basic electrical and vehicle electrical systems, supplemental restraint systems, engine cooling and HVAC systems and steering and suspension. Also covered are frame and unibody structural repair, including vehicle dimensioning utilizing both mechanical and computer measuring systems, vehicle straightening processes and procedures, welded panel replacement and resistant spot welding.

The refinishing courses offer students the opportunity to learn about personal and environmental protection, how to work safely with paints and chemicals, spray booth operation, types of paint and paint chemistry, paint mixing and mixing room management, spray gun operation and paint application, surface preparation, masking techniques, paint surface detailing and care of finished surfaces, plastic parts repair, spot repairs, color match and blending, damage analysis and estimating.

All WyoTech programs are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and WyoTech is a member of the I-CAR Training Alliance, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair.

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