Wake Tech’s newest facility receives $1M gift from Hendrick

Oct. 4, 2019
Wake Technical Community College, in Raleigh, recently announced the start of construction on its $41.8 million, 105,000-square-foot next-generation Automotive Systems Technology and Collision Repair facility.

Automotive service and collision repair students in North Carolina’s Research Triangle region will soon be able to learn the latest practices in a state-of-the-art facility. Wake Technical Community College, in Raleigh, recently announced the start of construction on its $41.8 million, 105,000-square-foot next-generation Automotive Systems Technology and Collision Repair facility. Planned for a fall 2021 opening on the Scott Northern Wake Campus, the new facility will more than double the number of students in its Automotive Systems Technology program, and it will add a new degree program in Collision Repair.

Developed in collaboration with industry leaders, the new facility has been designed to accommodate current and future needs of automotive experts. During its Sept. 16 unveiling ceremony, the first of what is hoped to be multiple partnerships from area dealerships and aftermarket professionals was announced. Hendrick Automotive Group has pledged $1 million to “Wake Tech” for the newly named Hendrick Automotive Center for Automotive Excellence.

Rick Hendrick, chairman of the group, based in Charlotte, N.C., said his company has 500 openings for technicians, and he anticipates that number to grow.

“There is a major demand for auto service technicians throughout our industry,” he said in a Wake Tech press release. “With so many opportunities out there, it’s important that we find partners like Wake Tech. They care about their students and teaching advanced skills.”

The new facility represents the state’s commitment to its citizens, “from cradle to career,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.

“We’re fortunate to have the best community college system in the country, led by Wake Tech,” he said.

Hendrick, who is also owner of NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, joined Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls, Gov. Cooper, U.S. Rep. David Price, and Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Jessica Holmes in unveiling a NASCAR race car bearing the Wake Tech and Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence names.

“Industry partnerships such as this are vital to keeping our programs relevant and our community’s economic engine humming,” Ralls said.

There are a number of other sponsorship opportunities available to industry partners, said advisory board member Rick Guirlinger, president of Bourke Services LLC in Raleigh. As an example of some of the sponsorships available, automotive and collision shop opportunities are $500,000 each, engine and transmission classrooms are $12,000 each, and the welding suite is $15,000.

“The specific equipment, tools, etc., are a work in progress, with some brands and models being determined to see what, if any, industry partners will be interested in providing support with gifts-in-kind,” Guirlinger said. “This, along with other strategic investors similar to Hendrick Auto Group, is an ongoing initiative, and is in-process with various individuals and companies. The objective is to provide opportunities to any and all industry partners willing to be a part of this incredible facility.”

Programs will expand at new facility
Wake Tech began its Collision Repair program in 2017 at the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy for high school students.

“We’ve been offering some classes for adult learners at night, but due to space limitations, we have not been able to fully offer the program to adult students,” said Laurie Clowers, vice president of communications and marketing at Wake Tech. “The Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence will satisfy the instructional needs of collision repair to offer certificate, diploma, and degree options. When the Center for Automotive Excellence opens, the program will move from Vernon Malone to the Northern Wake Campus.”

The Automotive Systems Technology program will move from the Southern Wake Campus to the new facility on the Northern Wake Campus, boosting its enrollment from 90 to 200, and 40 students will be added for the new Collision Repair program.

Facility draws in community with ‘wow factor’
Because a residential neighborhood is behind the building, the homeowners association worked with Wake Tech to ensure it would not be disruptive to the neighborhood, including some design considerations to reduce noise, Eddington said. The building’s swoopy exterior calls to mind a modern interpretation of the fins on ’50s cars.

The idea was to kind of say, ‘This is a futuristic automotive program, and when you walk into this, you’re walking into this automotive community. It’s a nice community of learning, and that’s the environment we’re trying to portray when you look at this building.”  

“This new facility will change the face of technical education,” Ralls said. “Similar to when athletes have a sense of awe stepping into a brand-new locker room or running out onto the field of a new stadium, the Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence will have that ‘wow factor’ that will instill a sense of pride in students who’ve chosen this entire path.”

About the Author

Jay Sicht | Editor-in-Chief, FenderBender and ABRN

Jay Sicht is editor-in-chief of FenderBender and ABRN. He has worked in the automotive aftermarket for more than 28 years, including in a number of sales and technical roles in paint/parts distribution and service/repair. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Central Missouri with a minor in aviation, and as a writer and editor, he has covered all segments of the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 of those years, including formerly serving as editor-in-chief of Motor Age and Aftermarket Business World. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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