College Collision Repair Program Starts in Rockford, Illinois

March 15, 2024
The program was initiated following an I-CAR committee's investigation into the needs of local repairers in their area.

A new collision repair program began classes on Monday, March 11, at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois.

The 16-week program started this month instead of next fall because the school would have lost a grant that helps pay for students’ tuition, according to Greg Brink, co-chair of the Rockford Area I-CAR committee and part-time instructor of the collision repair program at the college.

Brink and his committee investigated what collision repairers needed in the Rockford area, and the number-one issue was a lack of any collision repair education programs. The I-CAR committee, which is made up of instructors and shop owners, had a meeting with the college . Brink said 40 people involved in collision repair showed up at the meeting, which really impressed the college, and then administrators agreed with their suggestions.

Brink came out of retirement to teach part-time in the program, as there has been a huge demand for new collision repairers in the area, and said the school is in the interviewing process for another instructor.

Brink told FenderBender there aren’t any similar programs in the area and that the demand is high from local shop owners.

“Everyone told the same story,” Brink said. “The technicians in their shops are in their 50s and 60s and they’re not getting any younger.”

Fortunately for them, Brink reports the first class of the new program has an age range between 18 to 22.

The students are conveniently located in an area with plenty of paint and body shop suppliers such as Fox Valley Paint and NCS. The suppliers also helped with donating equipment. Milwaukee Tool provided sockets and wrenches, 3M donated a cabinet, and a local high school that recently closed a program loaned some of their own equipment, including a spray booth, according to Brink.

The college is building a new 10,000-square-foot shop space for the collision repair students to work in.

Currently, the program has only eight students. By next semester, Brink expects to have 10, and after construction is complete, they can accommodate 30.

The curriculum is I-CAR based,  but during its development, it was consolidated with input from local repairers. As a result, students are prepared with the skills they need to work in the Rockford area.

“This is something to get us started and it’s precise to where a student can get into a shop right away and have a basic skill set to be productive and the shop can work on building them up from there.”

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