Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Auto body program gets industry certification and new facility

When auto body students at Antelope Valley College enter their newly constructed lab this spring, they will find the latest equipment in the industry as well as the promise of national certification.

AVC has just been certified as an Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) alliance school, which means students successfully completing the program will be able to carry industry certifications, according to instructor Tim Sturm.

Sturm, who carries an I-CAR platinum certification, sought the certification for the college as a way to enhance employability of students.

For the students to get I-CAR certifications through working with auto body shops would cost the students and shop owners hundreds of dollars in time and money.

“Many times auto body programs -- and for that matter automotive technology programs -- tend to serve the hobbyists,” said Maggie Drake, dean of the Technical Education Division, which oversees the auto body program. “However, with the I-CAR certification … we are truly preparing auto body technicians to work at a state-of-the-art level on cars and trucks.”

Sturm can hardly contain his enthusiasm over the new shop, which was paid for by local Measure R bond funds at a cost of $3.3 million.

The new 5,460-square-foot facility features two downdraft paint booths, an enclosed paint mixing room, a Pro Spot i4 resistance spot welder, Chief Velocity measuring system, and Chief frame bench.

The Chief Velocity machine is a sophisticated system utilizing lasers to take measurements of a car body in order to restore a vehicle.

“You can actually pull (on the vehicle frame) and watch your computer screen dimensions change,” Sturm said. “Generally speaking, you can have it better than the original manufacturer had it on the specifications.”

Another advantage of the new shop is the ability to educate students in the water-born paint system, which is coming in 2011 as part of new air quality regulations.

Sturm hopes to work with I-CAR and equipment manufacturers such as Chief Automotive Technologies to offer regional training seminars for professionals at AVC.

“I actually think we’re at a cutting edge of what we can offer the industry,” said Sturm. “It’s exciting.”

“I’m just on cloud nine to have the opportunity to actually teach it this way,” he said in reference to the new equipment and updated curriculum. “We’re pretty much getting them taught on what the average shop tech is going to have to know.”