Owens opens ‘green’ auto body refinishing labWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Owens Community College celebrated the opening of its upgraded “green” auto body refinishing laboratory on March 23 at its Toledo-area campus in collaboration with BASF Corporation and I-CAR Education Foundation.
Owens developed the lab to promote hands-on training with the latest educational resources while reducing solvent emissions.
The updated lab includes the new Onyx-HD brand Waterborne Basecoat System donated by BASF through the I-CAR Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that promotes educational and career opportunities in the auto body repair industry.
“It’s refreshing that Owens has recognized the technology is in transition from solvent to water based. We are happy to assist Owens with its conversion to waterborne refinish technology,” said Joseph Skurka, OEM and Industry Relations Manager at BASF in Southfield. Mich.
“BASF stepped up with its donation to assist Owens with the costs for their collision program and providing the latest in waterborne equipment,” said Scott Kruger, executive director of I-CAR. The foundation matched the college’s request for waterborne equipment through its Ultimate Collision Makeover grant program.
The waterborne basecoat technology is becoming the standard of the automotive industry as OEMs and auto body shops are using the more cost-efficient, environmentally friendly system on the assembly lines and in the body shops, according to industry sources.
“We want to be ahead of the curve with the latest products and technology for our students to learn. We use both water and solvent-based paint in the auto body lab now,” said Tracy Campbell, chairman of Transportation Technologies at Owens.
Owens has 107 students participating in eight classes training them in auto body repair and refinishing, said Campbell who is also an instructor for the program. Owens is the only public institution in Ohio to offer the Auto Body Refinish Technician program, he said.
The program requires 21 credit hours of academic coursework which includes panel and hardware replacement, sheet metal repair, plastic repair, refinishing and collision repair estimating. All refinish courses feature BASF products which enables students to learn color-matching and paint formula retrieval using the professional products and systems.
Students in the program at Owens have the opportunity to earn a certificate while preparing for careers in automotive painting and refinishing at dealerships or auto body collision repair centers. Owens became only the second academic institution in the country to incorporate BASF’s waterborne refinish technology into its curriculum.
The refinishing program is certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and Owens is a member of the I-CAR Industry Training Alliance. Upon completion of the program, students can get professional credentials by passing a written test and paying a $20 fee to I-CAR.
“It makes for a seamless transition for students graduating from Owens to professional training at the BASF facility that’s only 20 minutes from our campus,” said Jeff Howard, assistant professor of automotive technologies and an instructor for the auto body refinishing classes at Owens.
BASF operates a research, development and training facility in Whitehouse that has supported the auto body refinishing program at Owens, according to Howard.
“The R&D facility in Whitehouse has a long-standing relationship with Owens and is excited to offer its support in terms of technology and training,” said Timothy Salatin, technical director at BASF Whitehouse.
“Mike Carroll and his staff have given generously of their time to our students and program partners on numerous occasions. Our students and faculty have participated in tours of the BASF facility and interacted with their employees,” said Howard.
B-W Auto Paint & Equipment in Toledo, a distributor of paint products, supplies the BASF water-based paint and provides some technical support for the training programs at Owens and Penta County, according to the firm’s owner, Brian Darah.
Charlie’s Dodge in Maumee is the only dealership in the Toledo area using BASF’s waterborne basecoat system, according to Bob Munson, manager of its body shop.
He said the dealership has reduced not only airborne pollutants but eliminated 95 percent of its hazardous waste by using the water-based system.
“We try to be good stewards of the environment. The students coming out of the program at Owens know what they are doing,” said Munson who has hired graduates of that program to work in the body shop.
In addition to Campbell and Howard, other instructors in the auto body program at Owens include Mike Golkiewicz, John Rude and Jeff Smith.
Owens hosted a statewide conference with the Ohio Department of Education for high school and vocational/technical school collision instructors in December. The teachers toured the auto body labs at Owens and training facilities at BASF, Campbell said.