Real world projects fuel wreck/rebuild program at Alfred State

Real world projects fuel wreck/rebuild program at Alfred State

Before and after pictures of the 2016 Chevy Cruze Limited
Before and after pictures of the 2016 Chevy Cruze Limited

Hands-on, real-word projects are key to the education that Alfred State College (ASC) students gain. The autobody wreck/rebuild program is a prime example of this.

Through this learning experience, students in ASC’s autobody repair major, led by instructors CJ Tremper and Brad Smith, are able to enhance their skill sets by fixing wrecked vehicles and gain insight into what it is like to work inside a live collision shop. Tremper and Smith teach and work alongside students throughout their time in the program. 

Vehicles are secured through funding provided by the Educational Foundation of Alfred, Inc., a private foundation dedicated to improving the Alfred State community through the support of educational programs. The Ed Foundation possesses a New York State automobile dealer’s license that allows the college to purchase wrecked cars from an auto salvage auction, which are then used for hands-on projects. The Ed Foundation covers the cost of purchasing these cars and any parts or materials needed to bring them back to pre-accident condition.

According to Tremper, work may range from minor repairs on hoods and fenders to major repairs to the structure of the vehicles. The program covers everything from basic bolt-on-panel replacement, to electrical system repairs, to steering/suspension work, to heating/cooling/air conditioning work, and much more.

Tremper sees huge advantages of this process, which allows students the opportunity to work on rust-free, late-model vehicles. “These cars are quality projects to start with. It makes the students step up their skills because the end result needs to be very high quality, just as it will be expected of them in the real world.”

“We try to acquire a car that has an appropriate amount of damage so that the students can actually apply in the lab what they had previously learned in the classroom setting. This allows us the opportunity to revisit some topics and do a little refresher course as the students actually perform the repairs to the vehicle.”

“This process is exactly what our students need in order to see how vehicles are fixed in collision shops across the country on a daily basis. We try to give them as much of a real shop feel as we can so that once they graduate and get a job, things look very familiar to their experience at Alfred State.”

The last car completed in the wreck/rebuild program was a 2016 Chevy Cruze Limited that Damian Cole won during the 2021 commencement ceremony. Students painted the entire front end, the whole driver’s side, and the driver’s side rocker panel. They replaced the hood, front bumper, driver’s side fender, both driver’s side doors, and the driver’s side rocker panel. 

“This type of project checks many boxes for us in regards to our student learning outcomes both the auto body and mechanical classes. We cannot say how much we appreciate the support of the Ed Foundation. Without them, we do not know how we would be able to give the students this type of education.”