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Students find success in auto restoration industry

It's a high growth area of the automotive body repair and service industry — the restoration of antique, classic or old cars — and a number of Mott Community College students are choosing it as a viable career option.

The two-year auto body technology program offered at MCC's Southern Lakes Branch Center in Fenton prepares students to enter the auto body repair industry. MCC has expanded the program content in auto body to include restoration and customization of collector automobiles. Students who elect this field of study have an opportunity to serve as interns at Flint's Sloan Museum Buick Gallery and Research Center where they learn the basic skills required in automobile restoration.

The internship program, initially launched in 2008, is sponsored by a group of automotive restoration enthusiasts with the local Buicktown Chapter of the Buick Club of America (BCA) and the Northeastern Michigan Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club with additional funding assistance provided by the Foundation for Mott Community College. The internship program is overseen by the MCC technology division.

MCC is responsible for evaluating the restoration work available at the Buick Gallery in relation to student skills, experience and readiness. Candidates must possess necessary skills, knowledge of workplace (tools, equipment and facility) and specific safety practices to receive the internship and enter the work site. An MCC representative visits, reviews and approves of the general work environment at the Buick Gallery to serve the best interest of the student.

"This is not your ordinary job in automobile restoration," said Roger Tyyksa, past director of the Buicktown Chapter. "It involves special vehicles from special factories from a special community. The Buick factory site, including others in Flint, has been wiped clean from the face of this earth. The gallery experience teaches the students both restoration skills and something about the people and those automotive organizations that built Flint."

The supervisor of the Buick Gallery restoration shop, Greg Keller, manages the student work assignments, workplace organization and teaches specialized training. The program has proven to be very successful and is strongly supported by all involved. In addition to gaining valuable work experience in restoration work at the Buick Gallery shop, students can participate in various events, such as the annual Sloan Summer Auto Fair and the BCA National Meet.

The internship period is one semester, 100 hours total, and is scheduled to fit around the interns' full-time class load at Mott Community College. Qualified student candidates are recommended by the MCC instructors and interviewed by the gallery and club representatives. The museum staff makes the final selection.

Benefits to students participating in the internship program are numerous. Students are introduced to a world of discipline and specifications required for quality work and receive training using special tools and techniques required for automotive restoration. The students' interaction with car club members and Buick Gallery staff also brings awareness to an array of people, services and events within the business aspects of auto restoration.

"The generosity of the car clubs is a reflection of the clubs' commitment toward not only preserving vintage vehicles, but also to supporting the next generation of old car enthusiasts," said Jerry Whitney, MCC auto body technology instructor. "The internship program has not only increased our students' skills, but has also opened a vast network useful in seeking future employment opportunities."

Call (810) 762-5000 for information about MCC's Auto Body Technology program.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

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