Rich Evans’ Academy Becomes Reality at Ohio Technical College

Rich Evans’ Academy Becomes Reality at Ohio Technical College

They don’t have a football team or cheerleaders, but now the Ohio Technical College (OTC) has something no other institution of higher education can offer its students. It’s called the Rich Evans Academy (REA), and it’s the newest division within the automotive curriculum at OTC, the largest technical college of its kind in the country.  Last year, the school was selected as the best top technical college in the nation.

The REA will open its doors and kick off its first 12-week module in fall 2011, after getting all the approvals from the accreditation board, according to OTC’s Vice President of Enrollment Management/Technical Training Tom King. The program’s capacity will be 25 students four times per year for a total of 100.  We expect it to really take off.  We train 200 auto body students annually in our college and we imagine that many of them will be attracted to the Rich’s curriculum.”

OTC is thrilled to be associated with Rich Evans for obvious reasons, King said. “We’re pleased to be partnering with Rich and we’re looking forward to tapping into his huge reservoir of skills and knowledge. He will bring his excitement for this industry to the school and we know that our students will benefit on many levels.”

Evans was amazed by the programs at OTC when he first visited the college a few years ago, he said. “My first impression of OTC was that this school is where I’d like to be if I were back in school. They care about their students and their futures. You can tell when you attend functions at the school and see the layout of their facilities. They’re always trying to make their curriculum better by offering a wide range of great programs. They want their students to learn and grow, and they place so many of their students in great jobs that it proves the value of what they teach.”

A lot has changed in the world of automotive technology since Ohio Technical College opened its doors 40 years ago. With V8 muscle cars making way for high-tech hybrids and the days of do-it-yourself repairs being replaced by professional technician service, the college is proud to be on the cutting edge of every aspect of automotive technology.

King knows that REA will hopefully produce a great car new generation of automotive restoration professionals that will be attractive to body shops throughout the country, he said.

“The school is always looking to offer its students the latest and greatest in the world of car restoration, paint techniques and customization, and by aligning itself with top instructors and sponsoring companies, we’re stepping up in a big way,” King said. “By creating the Rich Evans Academy, a special division of the college’s curriculum that hopes to offer those students who want to develop new skills under the tutelage of Rich Evans.”

What was the genesis of the REA? “It’s a program that Rich and I came up with together to really teach customizing cars in-depth and impart his advanced autobody techniques with this program,” King said. We’ll be videotaping everything Rich does for us, so that students can refer to them at any time. It’s a great tool for studying all of his techniques in detail.”

The classes offered by the REA will be geared toward the advanced OTC students, King explained. “We’re going to incorporate many of the unique skills that Rich has developed over the years, including his way of doing things and creating an organized and methodical way of working and bring them to the college. The REA will be an advanced automotive repair program for those students who really want to excel.

“Another component Rich will offer to the college includes his additional frame straightening techniques to complement what we’re already teaching,” King said. “He’s going to share his theories on pulling frames that he uses to help students to be more efficient in the field.”

The REA will also teach its students how to organize the production process, Evans-style, King said. “One of the things Rich does is designs and builds his own workstations, and we’re going to incorporate them into our program. For hammer and dolly work, we’ve got a workstation that they can build for themselves, to store their tools for the program. Helping our students to be organized in their work is very important, because we’re teaching them how to be effective in a shop environment.”

Other classes as part of the REA’s curriculum will include specialized instruction in paint, fabrication and tooling, just to mention a few, King said. “We’ll be teaching advanced removal techniques; waterborne painting techniques; different spray out methods; and proper PSI to use for different types of paint. All of our airbrushing is done using waterborne paint. Rich is going to get into fiberglass and plexi glass fabricating to create your own plugs and molds; advanced TIG welding; and fabrication tooling; smoothing and curving metal using the English wheel punishing hammer. Those are some of the things we’re looking to do at the REA.”

Skilled students will be able to spread their wings in a big way at the REA, King said. “These are more advanced autobody techniques that can help students to hone their skills a little more and develop their techniques even further. If our students want to get more into customization work, these classes will lay the foundation for those skills. They will be able to learn things that you wouldn’t normally see in your average auto body shop.”

King has also added some duties to Evans’s role at OTC, he explained. “We’re bringing Rich in as a “Master Advisor” to help us evaluate and improve the existing Collision Repair and Classic Car Restoration programs.  In this capacity, Rich will be working closely with staff and student and making recommendations to the college on how to improve curriculum, training methods and utilize the most current advanced techniques used in the industry.”

Ohio Technical College (OTC) began in 1969 as the Ohio Diesel Mechanics School, conducting six -week diesel training courses in Cleveland’s Warehouse district. Founded by Julius Brenner, the school began hitting its many growth spurts in 1971 as the demand for diesel tech training grew at a rapid pace and students moved into a larger facility to accommodate proper equipment.  From that day in the early 1970s, the school hasn’t stopped expanding, changing its name several times—first to the Ohio Diesel Technical Institute, then to Ohio Auto/Diesel Technical Institute and the Ohio Auto Diesel Technical College—before deciding on Ohio Technical College in September 1997 to reflect its mission to provide premier technical training in the world of modern mechanics.

In 1989, a building purchase added 500,000 square feet to the complex and the school created the Motorcycle and Small Engine Training Program. In 1993, the college was one of 133 technical schools nationwide to participate in the Federal Governments New Direct Loan Program.

Today, Julius’ son Marc Brenner serves as president of OTC while his grandson Jordan Brenner is the admissions/marketing manager of this family-owned school. More than 1,000 students are enrolled and 190 full-time employees work at the college.  Newly purchased buildings and houses are being converted into classrooms and parking lots to expand the campus footprint. Most recently, the school’s branch campus PowerSports Institute (PSI) has moved into a 210,000-square-foot facility in nearby North Randall, Ohio, to provide technical training on motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, ATVs and more.

Drawing students from all over the country, OTC is an Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) college.  Students can choose from a wide variety of technician training programs in Automotive, Diesel, Auto-Diesel, Collision Repair, Classic Car Restoration and PowerSport Technology as well as specialization in High Performance and Racing, BMW, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, CDL Truck Driver Training, Custom Paint and Graphics, Power Generator Systems and a 12-month Welding Program partnered with Lincoln Electric.

“It’s important for the college to give back to the industry and community by partnering with quality manufacturers and local businesses to create real-world training situations for our future technicians,” adds King.  “The Ohio Technical College team is extremely proud of our students as well as our academic programs in the automotive and powersports industries. We look forward to another exciting, rewarding and successful year for the students, staff and school.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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