Contra Costa College’s dean of its collision repair school Laura Salas had a great time at SEMA 2019 when her school was awarded a grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) in addition to gaining national acclaim for her involvement in an all-female car build sponsored by Girls Garage.
Again this year, CREF awarded scholarships to students and grants to auto tech schools in order to support collision repair educational programs, schools, and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities.
A $5,000 grant from CREF will help the school, with the money that is already earmarked, Salas said. “We are going to use this money to apply epoxy to our laboratory floor, something that was much-needed. The grant will cover the materials and then during our winter break, we will do the work with our buildings and grounds people. Our floors get a ton of wear, so this money is timely and a pleasant surprise.”
To participate in the all-female build, Salas traveled to Girl Gang Garage in Phoenix, AZ. “I got the call, and had 24 hours to get there, she said. “We had just hosted a CREF Job Fair, so I was a little tired. But, I thought this is a big deal, so I went there and worked on the ‘High Yellow’ truck for three days.”
More than 50 women techs, painters and mechanics worked on the vehicle in shifts, which provided a great opportunity for Salas to work with some of the industry’s best. “I met more than a dozen women while I was working on this project,” she said. “I handled a few paint emergencies; prepped before polishing, did a little wet sanding and assisted with some minor mechanical issues.”
The producer of "Girls Garage," a reality automotive TV series, project director Bogi Lateiner was in charge of the SEMA build and oversaw every little detail to create an eye-catching vehicle. “Yes, we built a ’57 Chevy Pickup with a BMW S62 engine that was unveiled at SEMA at the BASF booth, but this build is about so much more than a car,” she said. “Gathering women from across the world of all skill levels, to send a statement that the automotive industry is a great place for a gal to be. We’re celebrating each other, we’re celebrating our passion for working on cars and we’ve built one helluva awesome car. But it doesn’t end there--the journey continues!”