Program has strong bonds with industry
Transportation Careers education at Dakota County Technical College is founded on one driving principle: Produce well-trained graduates by providing the most technologically advanced training possible. That mission continues to pick up speed thanks to $7.23 million in state funding that fueled Phase I of DCTC’s Transportation & Emerging Technologies Renovation Project, which is underway on the college’s main campus in Rosemount, Minn.
The project involves renovating 118,000 square feet of classroom, lab and shop space used by students and faculty in the college’s Transportation and Technical Careers programs. Transportation programs are receiving significant upgrades both tangible and behind the scenes. The project also advances DCTC’s STEM initiatives while eliminating more than $3.5 million in deferred maintenance.
Auto Body Collision Technology is one of the Transportation programs benefiting from the renovation. Instructors Scott Logan and Gerry Rainford view the project as critical to keeping their program in tune with industry advances.
“We are not a restoration program,” Logan said. “Our students are working on late-model vehicles using state-of-the-art materials and techniques. That means we are always working to stay current with collision repair industry trends.”
Such trends include advances in welding equipment and techniques to accommodate new exotic alloys introduced by automakers, including ultra-high strength steel. The renovation project will also upgrade the brights and lights in the Auto Body program area, providing fresh paint for floors and walls as well as new lighting in the shop area.
Rainford noted the project will add two new paint booths to the program. “Regulations in have inspired a more eco-friendly perspective in the collision industry,” he said. “That nationwide shift has prompted a switch from solvent-borne paints to “greener” waterborne paints. Our students will be trained in waterborne paint application, which is slightly faster and requires a different technique.”
Phase I Renovation Timeline
- February to early April 2013: TKDA oversees project’s bidding process
- End of March to early April 2013: Bidding award period
- Mid-April 2013: Behind-the-scenes renovation begins
- Early May 2013: Major renovation begins
- Late August 2013 (start of fall semester): Major renovation completed
In 2014, DCTC will request $6.9 million to complete Phase II of the project. Renovation projects of this magnitude are planned in phases to reduce the disruptive impact on classroom and lab space operations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to increase 18 percent between 2010 and 2020 for technicians in the automotive body and related repairer field. “Job opportunities should be very good for jobseekers with industry certification and formal training in automotive body repair and refinishing and in collision repair,” the BLS reports. “Furthermore, demand for qualified workers with knowledge of specific technologies, materials, and makes and models of cars should create new job opportunities. Those without any training or experience will face strong competition for jobs.”
“We are not a restoration program. Our students are working on late model vehicles using state-of-the-art materials and techniques. — Scott Logan
Scott Logan underscores the importance of a superb education in his industry. “We emphasize new technology in our program,” he said. “New developments happen almost every day, from aluminum on steel bonding to composite plastics in fenders, hoods and radiator supports.”
“Our job as instructors centers on preparing our students to work in the industry’s top shops,” Rainford added. “We accomplish that mission by making sure our own shop is top of the line.”
Students studying at the top…
A 2010 graduate of the Blue Sky Online School, Rachel Grosslein, 20, was managing a Little Caesars Pizza franchise at the age of 17. Rachel is working toward her A.A.S degree and plans to graduate in spring 2014. She chose the Auto Body program because she heard good things about DCTC and knows the area around the college. “I’ve always had a passion for cars,” she said. “I had a Matchbox collection as a kid. I love the style and look of cars, not just how they work.”
Rachel is impressed by the practical aspects of the program. “I learn something new every day,” she said. “I’m picking up great skills I can use on the job and in my own work at home.”
A detailer and technician’s assistant at Mauer Chevrolet in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., Rachel is looking forward to a career as a collision industry technician.
Rachel Grosslein’s Top Cars(left to right) 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T “Plum Crazy”
Jeremy White, 21, works two jobs and still makes a 100-mile round-trip commute from Pine Island four times a week to attend classes in the Auto Body Collision Technology program. Jeremy hones his collision repair skills at Soulfisher Collision in Cannon Falls, Minn., and Early Iron Restoration in Rochester. At the latter shop, he works on vehicle restoration projects, something he really enjoys.
Jeremy has wanted to work on cars as long as he can remember. He likes how the DCTC program keeps him thinking. “We train in a great environment,” he said. “Our instructors are very knowledgeable and helpful. Everything is hands-on and you are always doing something different. I could never see myself at a job where you do repetitive work.”
As he finishes up his A.A.S. degree, Jeremy aims for success in the collision repair field. He would like to run his own shop one day.
Jeremy White’s Top Cars
Both Scott Logan and Gerry Rainford wish to thank legislators, public officials, area residents and the people of Minnesota for supporting the Transportation and Emerging Technologies Renovation Project, which is a vital step in helping reach the goals set forward in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Strategic Framework. Those goals place Minnesota citizens, communities and businesses at the top of MnSCU’s list of priorities.
“Our entire college community worked as a team to secure funding and move the renovation project forward,” Rainford said. “Scott and I and most especially our students are grateful for the support shown for our program area and other programs in the Transportation and Technical Careers departments. Delivering technical education at its finest is more important than ever.”