Butler Tech Auto Collision was presented with a $12,500 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover grant by the Collision Repair Education Foundation. Local I-CAR Committee co-chairs Becca Mastin from Enterprise and Becky McGrath from Mel’s Auto Glass presented the check to instructor Fred Hurt and his class at the Butler Tech Fairfield Township Campus on April 5.
Hurt has already used some of the funds to purchase a new portable painting station with air filtration. The grant gives students access to new equipment commonly found in body shops and adds more flexibility to the Auto Collison program’s lab, which already has a fixed painting booth.
Senior Rebecca Adams, a student from Talawanda, has already made use of the mobile painting station. “If you have someone in the paint booth painting, and you have something smaller to paint, then you can just go in there and hook it up. It helps if there are multiple people working on different things,” Adams said.
Hurt is already adding to his shopping list, planning to add a hydraulic door jack so students can more easily move car parts around the lab, and making upgrades to some of the older tools and equipment in the shop.
Mastin and the local I-CAR committee held a golf outing in September 2017 to raise funds for the grant, and identified Butler Tech as their first grant recipient. “We recognized that within our industry, there is a challenge getting good kids being filtered into body shops doing tech work. It is such an evolving industry that we wanted to be able to do something about that,” Mastin said.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of automotive body repair specialists is expected to grow about eight-percent over the next decade. The median annual pay was $41,540 in May 2016.
“This is an awesome opportunity for kids, and there is such a need for them right now,” Mastin said.
“Coming from someone who went to college, had a ton of college loans when I graduated, some of these kids are going to be making more money in their first five years than I did in my first 15 years after college.”
Butler Tech Auto Collision is a two-year program for high school juniors and seniors. In addition to hands-on career training, students also will complete their academic requirements for graduation at Butler Tech, while also having the opportunity to earn free college credit. For more information about applying for Butler Tech programs, please visit ButlerTech.org.