Automotive industry icon Rick Hendrick helped kick off construction of Wake Tech’s new automotive training facility with a $1 million gift from Hendrick Automotive Group and by unveiling the name, “Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence.”
“There is a major demand for auto service technicians throughout our industry,” said Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group. “At our company alone, we currently have 500 openings for techs, and that need will only grow in the coming years. With so many opportunities out there, it’s important that we find partners like Wake Tech. They care about their students and teaching advanced skills. As our manufacturer partners look to the future, Wake Tech will give people the training they need to build rewarding careers. When they graduate, our company and others in the auto industry will line up to hire them.”
Hendrick, who also is the owner of NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, joined Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls, Governor Roy Cooper, U.S. Rep. David Price and Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Jessica Holmes in making the announcement. In lieu of a traditional groundbreaking, they unveiled a special race car bearing the Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence name.
“Today is a great celebration,” said Governor Cooper. “In our state we have a commitment to our citizens from cradle to career, and we’re fortunate to have the best community college system in the country led by Wake Tech.”
The $41.8 million, 100,000-square-foot facility on the Scott Northern Wake Campus will enable the college to more than double the number of students in its automotive systems technology program (from 90 to 200) and add a new degree program in collision repair. Skilled technicians in both areas are in high demand at local dealerships. The Hendrick Automotive Group gift will provide funds for new technology and equipment, scholarships for students and to help recruit and retain expert faculty.
“We’re extremely grateful for this generous gift and the partnership with Rick Hendrick and the Hendrick Automotive Group team,” said Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls. “Industry partnerships such as this are vital to keeping our programs relevant, and our community’s economic engine humming.”
Construction is due to begin next month and the facility is scheduled to open for classes in the fall of 2021.
“This new facility will change the face of technical education,” said Ralls. “Similar to when athletes have a sense of awe stepping into a brand-new locker room or running out onto the field of a new stadium – the Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence will have that ‘wow factor’ that will instill a sense of pride in students who’ve chosen this career path.”
The Automotive Systems Technology degree program features training in advanced diagnostics, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, steering/suspension, transmission, climate control and manual drive trains. Collision repair includes painting and refinishing including special finishes, non-structural and structural repair, automotive plastic and adhesives identification repair, automotive detailing, body shop operations and auto body estimating. For more information, visit http://aet.waketech.edu.
The program included remarks by Wake Tech alum Alex Tang, who was hired by the Hendrick Automotive Group upon his graduation. “Coming here to speak for my alma mater is a great honor,” he said. “Wake Tech provided me with everything I needed to succeed. And thank you, Mr. Hendrick and BMW of Southpoint, for providing me with an amazing place to start my career.”