Using funds from a $15.7 million Forsyth County bond issue, the school converted the old Pinebrook Shopping Center into a 139,000-square-foot facility with dozens of classrooms and computer laboratories and open bays for teaching all aspects of transportation technology.
The new center will “create jobs for the people in this community,” said Dr. Gary Green, Forsyth Tech president. He said the long-term vision was to provide “all transportation technologies.”
Green listed five programs as currently available:
- Automotive Systems Technology.
- Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology including sheet metal and new finishes)
- Heavy Equipment and Transportation Technology for large trucks and over-the-road tractors.
- Recreational Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Technology.
- The Richard Childress Race Car Technology program. This center will feed students into the $6 billion auto racing industry.
Students are on three levels – in certificate programs to meet the specific state certification requirements of automotive sub-specialties diploma and two-year associate degrees. The campus also has English and math and other traditional college classes – many of which are transferable to a four-year college degree and various remedial programs such as English as a Second Language.
Graduates will find good jobs at auto dealerships, trucking companies, RV dealerships and other sites. The school has sophisticated computer equipment to check whether auto realignment on repaired cars meet factory specifications or what a car will look like after repainting. Special painting booths enable state-of-the art repainting of cars, and one instructor said that such auto painters typically make more than $100,000 a year.
Chris Harvey, Technical Training Manager for Southeastern Toyota, a five-state region including the Carolinas, said Toyota is partnering with Forsyth Tech. “We have to start with good people,” he said, and backing the program at Forsyth Tech will assure a supply of technicians for the 20 Toyota dealerships in the area.
“The students get the necessary skills to get a job,” Harvey said.
He said that Forsyth Tech was one of the only T10 level certified programs in the Southeast. Many of the cars in the shops at the school were Toyotas.
Joseph Sakowski from Snap-On Tools said his company was also a partner with Forsyth Tech, and serves as an East Coast train-the-trainer site for Snap-on.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-5th) also was present and gave brief remarks.