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Saturday, 25 January 2014 23:34

Northern California Tech School Gets $50K Makeover Grant from Education Foundation

The Collision Repair Education Foundation’s 2013 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover school grant winners were originally announced at the organization’s 2nd annual industry reception held during the SEMA show in Las Vegas where over $250,000 in grants were awarded.  Over 125 high school and college collision school programs from across the country applied for this coveted grant and each of the 2013 winning schools received $50,000 to fulfill their respective wish lists while several runner-up programs received $10,000. In addition to the two Makeover grants that were provided by the Education Foundation, two additional Makeover grants were sponsored through AAA Northern California and the Atlanta I-CAR Volunteer Committee.

The AAA Northern California - 2013 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover $50,000 School Grant Winner is Contra Costa College (CCC) in San Pablo, CA, an automotive tech program that has been praised for being one of the finest of its type in the country.
Executive Director of CCC’s automotive tech program, Peter Lock was on hand during SEMA to receive the $50,000 grant and he’s already earmarked the money for certain projects he believe will greatly enhance the school. “It’s definitely a game changer and a huge shot in the arm for our school,” Lock said.
“We went for a grant that would benefit the students and make us a better program overall. That’s why we purchased the SimSpray™ because it’s a teaching tool that will allow us to instruct our students to paint cars without actually using paint, which is huge. It’s extremely green and that was one of the main reasons why we used a large portion of our makeover grant on the SimSpray™.”
Lock promises that CCC’s new SimSpray™ will get a lot of use and that’s why he’s anxiously anticipating its delivery, he said. “We’re going to use it in our regular classes and maybe we can use it at some of the I-CAR classes we have here on Saturdays. It’s fairly mobile and fits in the back of a pickup truck, so we can take it to other schools as well. It’s going to be our new toy for a while and I imagine we’ll get better and better at using it as we learn more about it.”
Manufactured by VRSim, the SimSpray™ is an immersive virtual painting simulation that’s designed to supplement traditional educational methods, by assisting instructors in the teaching of spray painting and coating fundamentals.  By using SimSpray™, tech schools and training organizations can save considerable time on training while minimizing expenses, according to the system’s manufacturer.
Landing the grant was a win-win and a team effort, according to Lock, who will be celebrating his 35th year of teaching in 2014. “It’s good for Contra Costa College, it’s good for the program and it’s good for the students and that’s why we’re so pleased,” Lock said. “The local collision industry stepped up and gave us some amazing testimonials for the application and our students produced a great video about the program, so we did our homework and we put a lot into the application process.
There’s a great message here for our students—if you work hard and stay focused, you can achieve just about anything.”
In addition to the the SimSpray™ simulator, the Contra Costa College’s automotive repair program purchased ten new computers, two laptops, parts carts for the students’ use and brand new chairs for the classroom.
“Our computers were outdated and the chairs were getting old, so these are important additions to our school,” Lock said. “The students can now access the ALLDATA programs, because we couldn’t do it with our old computers.”
The goal of the Ultimate Collision Education Makeover grant is to honor a school that has been doing an outstanding job in educating students in collision repair, but needs some financial assistance to improve their program’s teaching materials and equipment.
With strained school budgets, the Education Foundation and industry supporters have the opportunity to bridge the program’s financial gap and to make a difference in the lives of the students studying collision repair.
As part of the Makeover grant application, schools provide an itemized wish list which can include any tools, supplies, and equipment.

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