Wake Tech College Adds Collision Repair Diploma Program to New Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence

Wake Tech celebrated the opening of its new Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence on April 13. Governor Roy Cooper, automotive industry icon Rick Hendrick and other elected officials and industry partners cut the ribbon on the $42 million state-of-the-art facility at Wake Tech’s Scott Northern Wake Campus in Raleigh, North Carolina The facility will allow the college to triple the number of students in its automotive systems technology program and add a new collision repair degree program.

“We are thrilled to open what is arguably one of the finest automotive training centers in the country,” said Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls. “Automotive service and collision repair has changed dramatically, and today’s technicians require highly specialized skills. From now on, we will be able to provide the many dealers and service centers in the Triangle with the skilled labor they need.

The new facility was made possible by a number of industry partners, in particular Hendrick Automotive Group, for whom the center is named. Hendrick Automotive Group has created a $1 million endowment to support students, faculty, staff and technology in the college’s automotive programs. The company employs more than 5,000 people in North Carolina, including nearly 1,200 in the Triangle.

Industry partners include:

  • Capital Automotive Group, which donated $500,000 for scholarships, faculty retention and support, and student books and tools.
  • Advance Auto Parts, which has donated $250,000 to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups in automotive training programs through its Future Technician Program Scholarships. Starting this fall, five students will receive $2,500 a year to cover tuition and fees, plus a $600 stipend for tools. The funds will also be used to recruit students, tools and equipment.
  • Axalta Coating Systems, which donated $250,000 for scholarships and faculty support for the collision repair program. The company is also donating $65,000 for equipment and supplies.
  • Other partners include Wake County New Vehicle Dealers Association, Carolina Exotic Car Club, Leith Automotive Group, Crossroads Automotive Group, Cox Automotive Group, Northwood University, CDK Global, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, Autocare Association and Rick Guirlinger, owner and president of Bourke Services. .

“It is critically important that the automotive industry continues to attract young talent by providing them with the best educational and career opportunities possible,” said Rick Hendrick, President and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group. “This new educational center on the Wake Tech campus will help meet our long-standing need for qualified automotive technicians. Working with our manufacturing partners, Wake Tech has built a facility that will grow with our industry and prepare people for well-paying jobs right here in North Carolina. They took it out of the park.

Hendrick, who also owns NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, joined Dr. Ralls, Cooper, Wake Tech Board Vice Chairman Kellie Falk and Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson to make the announcement.

“This center will help students develop critical skills and keep up with rapidly changing automotive technology,” Cooper said. “North Carolina is leading the way in the transition to clean transportation, and partnerships like this between Hendrick Automotive Group and Wake Technical Community College strengthen our economy and secure our clean energy future.”

The Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence includes a 16,500 square foot automotive systems lab, named Capital Automotive Group, with 13 elevators and two wheel alignment machines.

It also includes a 15,000 square foot collision repair lab with six elevators, four paint booths and two frame straighteners. Other features include a performance lab for engine and transmission classes, dyno rooms for testing engines and transmissions, a welding lab, eight classrooms, three computer labs, and a lecture hall. The glass walls allow visitors to see the activity of the laboratory without disturbing the lessons.

“It will soon become a hub for industrial activities of all kinds,” said Dr. Ralls, “a place for training in the latest technologies and trends, where students, expert instructors and industry leaders can interact and learning from each other.. Ultimately, this activity helps boost our economy – and is a shining example of why I like to say “Wake County runs on Wake Tech!”

“We are extremely grateful to all of our industry partners who have come together for this important project,” said Matt Smith, vice president and executive director of the Wake Tech Foundation. “The partnerships will attract students from diverse backgrounds to this field where they are needed – and help maintain the strength of our local automotive industry.”

Alex Tang, a 2019 graduate of Wake Tech’s automotive technology program, spoke during the program. He said he has a great career as a service technician at Hendrick BMW in Southpoint thanks to the training he received at Wake Tech and working at Hendrick Automotive Group.

“This moment is very special to me,” Tang said. “I want to thank all of my instructors for giving me the chance to start a great new career. By teaching me everything I needed to know and being informed about the automotive industry as a whole, I I was immediately prepared to apply the skills and knowledge to succeed.