SUGAR GROVE – Andy McDonald describes a tradition of excellence associated with Waubonsee Community College’s auto repair program.
McDonald, assistant professor of auto body repair at the school, rattles off years of high finishes at state and national competitions and talks of high-caliber students finding work soon after school. A lot of that was accomplished with older machinery, but a recent accolade will provide a big-time modernization.
Waubonsee was among four schools nationally to receive a $50,0000 ultimate collision education makeover grant.
As a result, the school will add a new paint room, a new paint booth and a new frame rack, which was donated by Spanesi Body Shop Technology of Naperville.
A North Aurora-based Sherwin Williams store will donate paint for the interior of the program’s building.
The equipment is worth tens of thousands of dollars, and McDonald said it will provide a boost, allowing students to work with state-of-the-art machinery that they would encounter when they are employed.
“It’s more real world,” McDonald said.
For instance, with the older technology, there were 1980s-style spray booths, and paint might have to dry overnight.
But with newer technology, McDonald said, cars can be “baked” for 30 minutes. He said it also helps mistakes get corrected more quickly.
He said the old equipment wasn’t bad, but “it was just old equipment. Now, it’s going to be better.”
Sue Murray, the assistant vice president of career and technical education at Waubonsee, said it was the second year the school had applied for the grant. She said it’s an opportunity to put a wish list together. She said I-CAR – the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair – seeks the donations.
She said the donations will improve an already-successful and popular program. She said having such a program is a positive for Waubonsee.
“It is always full,” she said, adding that there are few such programs in the state. She said because such programs need equipment that can be pricey and require plenty of space, “schools don’t go into it lightly.”
At Waubonsee, she said, it’s a big help to have a program experience such accolades.
“It has a very good reputation,” she said.
Darrel DeGreves, the store manager at Sherwin Williams in North Aurora, said his store’s donations will be between 20 and 40 gallons of “Moonlight White” paint for the interior of the building.
“It’s really needed,” he said. “The building was originally a horse barn, and they’ve converted it into an auto center.”
He said he is happy to help. He said he is familiar with the program and is impressed by those who are in it.
“The kids are good kids,” he said.