Just over a decade ago, Bridgerland Technical College in Logan, Utah received the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s 2010 Makeover Grant. Although the school was awarded over $50,000 in upgraded tools, equipment and supplies, the Foundation was able to provide over $125,000 in donations for the collision repair education program, through the industry’s generosity. Yet the most valuable asset that Bridgerland acquired came in the form of relationships developed with industry professionals and the sustained professional shop environment that has served to attract high-quality students to the program.
When Bridgerland first received the award, Kevin Cornia, Instructor and Department Head of Bridgerland’s Auto Collision program, predicted, “We’re going to update our program with lots of tools and equipment to help us provide the best education possible. A makeover grant like this allows us to have updated and more sophisticated equipment to better train our students. I believe we will end up painting our shop through donations of paint. Essentially, our shop is going to look a lot different, and our collision repair program will actually go through a makeover,” – and that’s exactly what happened!
Being recognized by the Collision Repair Education Foundation yielded immediate benefits; as soon as the Foundation announced that Bridgerland was the 2010 Makeover Grant winner, the school received a $4,500 plasma cutter, donated by a local welding company. Over the following months, donations rolled in, fulfilling the school’s wish list of tools and equipment that weren’t covered by the program’s budget.
Through the industry’s generosity, Bridgerland was able to take their strong auto collision program and propel it to the next level. “We used the donations to update our frame rack, laser measuring system, welders, and items that we needed to update our program.,” recalled Cornia. “In addition to utilizing all the equipment we received from the grant, we’ve continued to build on it each year, allowing us to train our students on the most up-to-date industrial equipment. Being able to educate these future technicians on the most current and advanced equipment used in the industry helps them succeed in the collision industry after graduation.”
Bridgerland has continued teaching I-CAR curriculum since receiving the Foundation’s 2010 Makeover Grant, but the award also allowed the school to “develop great relationships with industry professionals, which has allowed us to host training from 3M, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, and PPG, as well as CHIEF pulling and measuring classes. This would not have been possible before we received the grant from CREF.”
With the industry’s donations, Bridgerland’s student lab also received a refreshed coat of paint on the walls and a fresh epoxy floor coating by painting the shop and recoating the floors. The department’s appearance made an immediate impact on school staff, who appreciated the investment in the program, but more importantly, “the updated visual aspect of the shop made an impression on potential students when they explored our program,” Cornia said.
Before and After Photos
“We’ve had a tremendous response from students, and we currently have a waiting list for our auto collision program,” he continued. “The many layers of assistance and support we’ve received as a 2010 Makeover Grant winner has helped to boost our enrollment and placement. The lasting impact has been impressive, and Bridgerland students will continue to reap the benefits for years to come.”
While an updated appearance, along with modern tools and equipment, certainly helps to attract students to Bridgerland’s auto collision program, the industry’s involvement carries more weight than simply the surface value of the donated items – when local industry professionals invest time and energy into students by joining advisory committees and taking on apprentices, future technicians can envision their future in an industry dedicated to their success.
CREF’s mission aligns around these efforts, and Cornia believes the Foundation plays a critical role in supporting the next generation of industry professionals. “Students are the future of the collision repair industry. The students taught by your local schools will become the industry’s next collision technicians. When the programs’ instructors are able to teach students on modern equipment, when we’re able to teach the most innovative ideas and products, this ensures that we are shaping the industry’s future in the right way, that we’re educating students who will become excellent entry-level technicians.”
Of course, schools aren’t the only ones in this equation who face budgetary constraints, and Cornia noted, “The Collision Repair Education Foundation also makes it possible for students with financial challenges to be able to afford to continue in school programs. The Foundation facilitates the industry’s generosity by finding those who are willing to help by offering grants to students that stand out in the industry or struggle financially. CREF’s efforts makes the collision industry stronger!”
Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit www.CollisionEducationFoundation.org.