Flanked by college students in Augusta Tech’s automotive know-how program, college President Dr. Jermaine Whirl (left) and Jim Hudson, founding father of Jim Hudson Automotive Group, maintain an outsized $1 million donation test at Jim Hudson Lexus on Thursday.

By early subsequent yr, Augusta Tech’s new automotive know-how campus will remodel a former Walton Means automobile dealership right into a simulated studying atmosphere.

The varsity ceremonially accepted a $1 million donation for the undertaking – initially introduced in April – from Columbia, S.C.-based Jim Hudson Automotive Group, whose 10 dealership areas embody three in Augusta.

“Anyone can promote a automobile,” firm founder and principal Jim Hudson mentioned within the showroom of his Lexus dealership on Washington Street. “It takes a extremely good technician to maintain it bought.”

What was not disclosed in April was the place the automotive know-how campus can be situated. Augusta Tech not too long ago bought the previous Johnson Motor Co., a Cadillac vendor that closed its location in 2021 on the fringe of the town’s Laney-Walker neighborhood.

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Johnson Motor Co., which closed in the summer of 2021, sits empty on Walton Way in Augusta on June 22. The former Cadillac dealership will be the home of Augusta Tech's expanded automotive technology campus.

Johnson Motor Co., which closed in the summertime of 2021, sits empty on Walton Means in Augusta on June 22. The previous Cadillac dealership would be the house of Augusta Tech’s expanded automotive know-how campus.

Hudson’s $1 million, coupled with a separate $1 million donation from Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership additionally introduced in April, will fund a lot of the development and renovation prices to finish the brand new campus by the top of the yr, Tech President Dr. Jermaine Whirl mentioned.

A rising job market

The growth of Tech’s automotive program comes at a time when in-demand restore employees are anticipated to own bigger talent units to carry out work on more and more technologically-advanced autos. Electrical and hybrid autos can be among the many rising applied sciences studied in higher depth at Tech.

About 69,000 openings for automotive service technicians and mechanics are anticipated nationally annually, on common, by way of the top of the last decade, based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Planning the brand new campus adopted months of discussions with native auto sellers, transit firms and different business stakeholders to gauge their curiosity in serving to enhance the auto-repair expertise pool within the Augusta space, Whirl mentioned.

This system additionally will introduce “OEM,” or authentic gear producer coaching, so college students can earn certifications to work on sure makes and fashions of autos. At present most OEM coaching is obtainable solely in different cities or states, and there’s no assure {that a} employee who leaves Augusta to coach will return to his Augusta job when coaching is full, based on Whirl.

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It is not a brand new mannequin

Turning auto dealerships into classroom house is new, however not distinctive. In 2019, Moore Tech in Memphis, Tenn., opened its auto know-how college in what was once a Honda dealership. Oklahoma’s Tulsa Expertise Heart opened a satellite tv for pc campus in 2013 in an previous dealership constructing, however the location gives non-automotive courses.

Placing Augusta-area college students within the skilled habitat of a former automobile dealership will contribute to a different function of Tech’s new program, which is able to educate college students on the enterprise facet of the automotive business, for individuals who need to turn out to be gross sales managers, finance managers or homeowners of auto dealerships.

Tech’s bigger auto campus will be capable to accommodate extra automotive college students from its Augusta and Waynesboro campuses. Tech automotive teacher Taylor Bryant mentioned this system at present teaches 50-55 college students who jockey for work house in one of many college’s 10 service bays in a ten,000-square-foot facility.

The brand new campus, measuring about 67,000 sq. toes, can have between 35 and 40 service bays, he mentioned.

“It’s one of many largest issues to occur to our program in its historical past, and I can’t wait to see what we’ll be capable to do with group investments like this,” Bryant mentioned.

This text initially appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Augusta Tech’s greater automotive program revving up in 2023