Wednesday, 18 December 2013 21:55

WCC Auto Body Program Secures $50,000 Makeover Grant

One of Illinois’ best auto body repair education programs soon will get even better, after Waubonsee Community College’s program became one of four nationwide to secure a $50,000 grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation.

The Auto Body Repair Program at Waubonsee has been selected to receive the Foundation’s 2013 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover. The award will allow the program to install a new, modern automotive paint spray booth in which students can learn and train using state-of-the-art equipment. The award was announced during the annual SEMA Show, held by the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association, Nov. 4–8 in Las Vegas.

The competitive process drew applications from more than 125 collision repair education programs from across the US. The top prizes of $50,000 were awarded to just four collision repair education programs.

Waubonsee will use the grant to upgrade its auto body repair facilities, adding a new paint room and a new clear-curtained auto body paint booth, a project estimated to cost more than $48,000. Andrew MacDonald, assistant professor of Auto Body Repair at Waubonsee, said the new facilities would allow the program to grow and expand. He noted that the new booth will particularly allow students to gain more experience at using waterborne paints.

“We now will have the technology to take our students into the 21st Century,” MacDonald said.

Each year, students in the program receive the opportunity to learn while repairing about 80 collision-damaged vehicles supplied by local vehicle owners.

Suzette Murray, dean for Business and Career Technologies at Waubonsee, said the new equipment should be installed before the beginning of the 2014–15 school year.

Murray said the grant “allows for much-needed equipment to be installed when our ordinary budget couldn’t support the purchase.”

In a letter to the Foundation in support of the Waubonsee program’s application, Rick Jarvis, vice president of Fox Valley Auto Paints in Aurora, Ill., said the Waubonsee program is already among the best at producing students whose skills are second to none, but acknowledged new equipment could help.“New booths would help the program get to the next level of excellence,” Jarvis said.