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Collision repair education: Camp, college, career fairs & scholarships

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Collision Repair | Education
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A lot is going on in the world of collision repair education, from a successful apprenticeship program in California to several upcoming career fairs and the recent announcement of collision repair scholarship recipients.

Contra Costa College Automotive Department Co-Chair and Collision Repair Technology Professor Laura Lozano told Repairer Driven News enrollment is full for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and nine students are vying for six apprenticeships offered through CCC and Collision Engineering. Collision Engineering is a national workforce development program founded by Enterprise Holdings and Ranken Technical College. CCC is one of four colleges that participate.

“In general, through COVID, the past two years we’ve had enrollment as low as four students so the increase has been substantial this semester,” Lozano said. “Last semester, we enrolled under 20 out of the 27. Prior to that, it was 10.”

Six of the students that began this semester registered when they attended a two-day summer camp, called “CCC Automotive Camp,” in June. Altogether, there were 18 participants, both current high schools and recent graduates from the local area. They worked hands-on in four stations — MIG welding, spot welding, polish, and refinish. Students also got to hear from local industry representative guest speakers including B&S Hacienda Auto Body, Barsotti’s Body and Fender, and Mercedes-Benz of Walnut Creek.

“The work stations in the summer camp were supported by the same industry partners that help us run the manufacturer training for the Collision Engineering students,” Lozano said. “During the Collision Engineering program, we have four sets of classes where students come in outside of the regular class schedule and they train directly with industry. Industry comes into the college and runs the regular technician-level classes with these students.”

The trainings are one to three days long. MIG welding is led by I-CAR instructor and Collision Engineering National Program Director John Helterbrand; spot welding by Equip Automotive Services, which also runs the program’s structural repair training; polish by 3M; and refinish by Sikkens, which provides private training for students in the program.

Nine students enrolled in CCC’s program opted to take on an apprenticeship, but there are only six slots, so the first six students that secure employment by the end of September will be guaranteed a slot, she added.

The addition of a workforce development coordinator to the program, provided through Collision Engineering, in March of this year has been a great asset to the program and Lozano attributes the increase in enrollment as well as the success of the summer camp to her.

Because of the camp’s success this year, CCC plans to hold it again next year and may offer more days with broader outreach to high schools in surrounding counties, Lozano said. The college is also considering merging the camp with a CREF career fair so students can get hands-on experience from the camp and more exposure to local industry through the fair.

CREF has put the word out to collision industry businesses to participate in its fall 2022 High School & College Transportation Student Career Fairs that will be held across the country on:

    • Oct. 4 at 3M’s headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota;
    • Nov. 9 at Kingwood Park High School in Houston, Texas;
    • Nov. 10 at Collin College in Dallas, Texas; and
    • Dec. 6 at the Suburban Showcase Conference Center in Detroit, Michigan.

“CREF’s Career Fairs provide a unique opportunity for collision industry employers to connect with hundreds of students who have trained for entry-level positions and are ready to start their careers,” said CREF Program Manager Tiffany Bulak in a statement. “Engaging with future transportation industry professionals is vital for all segments of the industry – collision centers, dealerships and even paint, tool and equipment companies – as a means of generating brand awareness for the business but most importantly, in order to showcase the diverse career paths available to the students in attendance.”

CREF also has an electronic student resumé database with contact information for more than 600 collision students.

Those interested in participating in any of the fairs listed above or in collaborating with CREF to schedule one in your area can contact Bulak at Anyone that can’t attend a fair but wants to get their company name in front of incoming technicians can sponsor packages through CREF for $50 per student that include company-branded Cintas technician shirts, work pants, and a safety kit. To sign up, contact Bulak.

And industry members interested in getting involved to support CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can contact Managing Director Brandon Eckenrode at 312-231-0258 or via email at

In other student news, Ashton Peterson of Wishek, North Dakota, and Daniel Zielinski of Addison, Illinois, have each been awarded a $1,000 Michael Busch Memorial Scholarship from ASE Education Foundation and the University of the Aftermarket Foundation for this school year.

“Ashton and Daniel are two very worthy recipients of these prestigious scholarships,” said Mike Coley, ASE Education Foundation president, in a statement. “Each has excelled both academically and as leaders in their schools and communities. Every year, we are honored to be able to award these scholarships in the memory of Michael Busch and we thank the University of the Aftermarket Foundation for their assistance with the administration of the scholarships.”

The Michael Busch Memorial Scholarships were created in memory of the son of a former collision shop owner and ASE board member, Jim Busch, who operated a shop in Issaquah, Washington until his retirement. His son, Michael, was an automotive technology student who tragically lost his battle with cancer.

“Each year, our family is honored to present these scholarships in Michael’s memory,” Busch said in a statement. “Ashton and Daniel are well-deserving of this recognition, and we wish them well as they continue their educations. Awarding the Michael Busch Scholarships is a very meaningful way for us to remember Michael by helping to provide support for the next generation of students who are pursuing careers in the collision repair industry.”

Two scholarships are awarded annually to applicants that are graduating high school seniors or have graduated from high school or received a GED certificate. Applicants must also be full-time students, or have plans to enroll full-time, in a two- or four-year college or an ASE-accredited post-secondary collision repair program.

UAF has awarded 461 scholarships to students nationwide this year adding up to a “record-setting” $731,350 for this school year. To be considered for 2023-24 scholarships students must submit applications after Oct. 15 on or


Featured image credit: Mariakray/iStock

More information

Industry groups call for more collision repair education involvement

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