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Four years ago, FTCC welcomed its Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology Program to campus. Students learn how to make cosmetic repairs on plastics, composites and more while also receiving training on multiple welding techniques. Students earn multiple I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) certifications and secure jobs in the auto repair industry. They build their craft in our 23,000-square-foot shop in the Military Business Park off Santa Fe Drive and in the classroom.

This week, we’re sharing Q&A’s with students who were part of the first graduating class in 2016. Meet Jordan West, a Fayetteville native who stumbled upon the program and says his love for cars started with Collision U.

Age: 25
Hometown: Fayetteville
High School: Cape Fear
Job: Collision Repair Technician for Classic Collision in Atlanta

Did you have an interest in cars prior to enrolling in Collision U?
It didn’t start until I got into the program.

Why did you enroll in Collision U?
Straight out of high school, I went to UNC-Greensboro and went there undecided. I planned on doing something in art, but I came to the realization that it would be hard to have a career in art because as an artist, you have to be really famous for something to have a really successful career. And I wanted something that would be a little more stable and have a guaranteed income.

After I came to the realization that art wouldn’t be the best career for me, I transferred to FTCC and I had a family friend who was a teacher for the radiography program. I explored that field and quickly found out that was something I didn’t want to do. Getting into Collision U was by chance. My parents recommended the auto body field because they read it was an industry that needed employees to fill those jobs. I was exploring my options, and I got into the program. From the first day, I enjoyed it. I could see an actual future in it.

Jordan West inspects a vehicle while working at Classic Collision in Atlanta, Ga. West was one of the first graduates from FTCC’s Collision U program focused on auto body repair. (Submitted Photo/Jordan West)

What do you get out of your job?
The fact that it’s so hands on and specialized and at the end of each job, you can see your outcome, and that you’re successful. Seeing and hearing the customers reaction is another great thing before they had wrecked their car or someone else had messed up their biggest investment.

How did the Collision U program prepare you before graduating?
They laid a good foundation for us, gave us the rights and wrongs, the hands on work we needed and really showed us how to apply it to every situation we would face. That’s what these companies are looking for. It made it easy to transition and gave us the confidence we needed to do the work on our own.

How did you and fellow graduate, Matthias Rappe, meet?
We met in the Collision U program. He works at Classic Collision, too. We moved down here together and live in the same apartment. It made adjusting to Atlanta a bit easier.

And how is Atlanta treating you?
Oh, it’s great for two young guys like us.