Construction Begins on Wake Tech’s Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence

Expanding need for qualified technicians pushes growth at Raleigh-based community college

Construction begins this month on Wake Technical Community College’s new automotive training facility in North Carolina. The Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence is named after Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group and owner of NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, who donated $1 million to the college for the facility.

In lieu of a traditional groundbreaking ceremony, a special race car bearing the Wake Tech Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence was unveiled. Photo courtesy of Brasfield & Gorrie

“There is a major demand for auto service technicians throughout our industry,” said Hendrick. “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.”

Located on the Scott Northern Wake Campus, the $41.8 million, 100,000-square-foot facility will enable the college to more than double the number of students in its automotive systems technology program and add a new degree program in collision repair. Skilled technicians in both areas are in high demand at local dealerships.

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Currently, Wake Tech’s associate in applied science degree in automotive systems technology curriculum covers all automotive systems, progressing from the basics to advanced technologies, with a special emphasis on the electrical system, since electricity controls 99 percent of vehicle operations. It includes 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.

Wake Tech also offers the diesel and heavy equipment technology program, which prepares students to apply technical knowledge and skills to repair, service and maintain diesel engines in vehicles such as heavy duty trucks over one-ton classification, buses, ships, railroad locomotives, and equipment like electrical generators and stationary diesel engines.

The Scott Northern Wake Campus. Photo courtesy, Wake Tech

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 Scott Ralls. “Industry partnerships such as this are vital to keeping our programs relevant, and our community’s economic engine humming.”

The Hendrick Center for Automotive Excellence is the first of five major expansion projects funded by a $349 million bond issue passed in the fall. The architect for the project is Gensler. The construction manager is Brasfield & Gorrie. Construction is set to begin in November and end in time for classes to open in fall 2021.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hendrick Automotive Group is the largest privately held automotive retail organization in the United States with 95 dealership locations and 130 franchises. It employs more than 10,000 total team members across 14 states.

Wake Tech is the largest community college in North Carolina, serving more than 74,000 adults each year.

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