Auto-body isn’t the kind of career that one would think involves a lot of art. However, students from the auto-body program received the chance to tap into their creative side and design the paint scheme for a car that once belonged to the police academy.
Director of Plant Services Tom Ramler joined forces with the auto-body department to add a new paint job to a car that has recently came to plant services. NTCC Instructor of Automotive Technology Tony Whitworth used the project as an opportunity as a competition between his duel credit students to create a paint scheme for the car.
“When the police academy closed, we had the vehicle to use,” Whitworth said. “It was in bad shape. It needed paint. We had a contest, so the duel credit students came up with a paint scheme.”
Whitworth had each one of his students draw up a paint design for the car. Whitworth then reviewed all the designs and chose the one that he felt represented NTCC the best.
The auto body students put in several hours sanding and painting the vehicle, which was so sun damaged that it resisted the paint and continued to chip.
“It was pretty rough,” Whitworth said. “We were lucky to get that paint job on it because it didn’t want to sand very easy. When we put primer on, it was trying to lift it.”
Whitworth said that the project gave students the opportunity to learn the technique of painting by experiencing it.
“We needed a car for a project to work on throughout the year,” Auto body student Alex Plunkett said. “We started it a month into the semester, last semester. Each one of us put well over 20 hours into the car, sanding it down and trying to get it to hold paint.”
Plunkett along with Abraham Minjares, Sydney van Rijn, and Jonathan Ledesma all had a hand in the paint job.
“The challenge was there was so much paint on it,” Whitworth said. “Really, when we were painting, I was painting the roof because I was so afraid of the roof, and I was showing them that you had to spray it real light because if you put it on to heavy, the paint underneath was trying to eat through it.”
Whitworth said that as the group came together as a team, they were able to overcome these problems and get the job done.
“We have a few incidents, but overall it turned out good,” Whitworth said. “I think teamwork is the key. I hope they got a little inspiration that they could do this, even if they didn’t want to. They find out real quick that this is a lot different than being a mechanic.”
Whitworth said that the students learned new things about themselves as they worked on ways to get past the problems they encountered and do the job that needed to be done.
“It’s all about learning to work,” Whitworth said. “We all have a disability. It’s an art, and there is also a certain amount of ethical ways of doing things. Anybody can do this, but it’s how you do it. You can do a really nice job or you can do a real crappy job.”
Whitworth was in the auto-body field for five years before he really began to understand that it was an art.
“I was fortunate that I had a good friend that was a body man to help me along,” Whitworth said. “What I try to do here is not be easy on them. I give them a little bit of free time, but then I push the “go button” on them. That job is just a scratch of what the industry is like. Becoming a paint and body person is unbelievable in this time and era because there’s hardly any left.”
Ramler said this gave the students the opportunity to learn how to properly paint a car.
“Because we are such a small school, we all know each other,” Ramler said. “We are all able to coordinate and network very well together. Instead of having to purchase a vehicle, we were able to use existing resources, and now we had a vehicle we will use for the next ten years.”
Whitworth and his students learned a lot while working on the car. They are proud that they were able to take a car in such a poor condition and make it look new.
“I feel extremely lucky that’s it’s done and it didn’t fall apart,” Whitworth said. “I’m proud too, but it’s been a lot. It has not been a dull moment.”
Whitworth said that anyone who is good at drawing is good at painting. He said that they should be confident and the abilities they have and not afraid to show them.
“If you’re an artistic person, it’s a blast,” Whitworth said. “I hope they learned that this is not an easy thing for anyone. You have to drive. You have to be self-confident. You have to be motivated, and you’re going to make mistakes.”