New automotive training center opens at Clover Park Technical College

With various restored automobiles on display, rock and roll blasting over the loudspeakers, the serving of refreshments and picture-perfect weather, the stage was set Thursday, June 5, for the official grand opening of Clover Park Technical College’s new Automotive Education Trades Complex.

“It’s the best in Washington state,” said Sharon McGavick, Clover Park Technical College president, of the $12 million, 85,000-square-foot facility. “It’s very exciting.”

Designed by McGran-ahan Architects, the center houses the Automotive Technology, Automotive Collision, Auto Upholstery and Glass and Automotive Restoration-Finishing programs.

A signature feature of the complex is an auto display pavilion for showcasing vehicles that have been repaired or restored. The building also has a tech wing with four shop areas connected to a finish wing with two shops equipped with state-of-the-art paint booths. Between the wings is a courtyard lawn where vehicles can be driven. Eight multi-purpose classrooms can be accessed from the training areas or corridors linking the wings.

Designed with the students and faculty who work there in mind, as well as visitors, the building emphasizes a light and airy feeling, with training areas glassed in so those walking down the central corridor can observe students-in-training. Glass-paned garage doors can be opened so that vehicles can be readily driven from the shops to adjacent parking areas or the courtyard.

“Thank you for a gorgeous job,” said Tony Robinson, vice president for operations and facilities, in praise of the architects. “It’s truly a unique facility.”

Two major announcements were made during the afternoon ceremony. An agreement with the Ford Motor Co. for a six-to-nine month maintenance and light repair program at the Lakewood campus has been signed, said Dr. Joe Dunlap, vice president for instruction. Also, students will restore vehicles for the LeMay Car Museum, he said.

Following the event’s speeches, Lakewood Mayor Bill Harrison, surrounded by school officials and others, cut the ribbon with a pair of oversized novelty scissors, marking the official opening of the impressive structure.

Though Thursday was the dedication ceremony, the building has actually been in use since the beginning of this year. The Automotive Education Trades Complex replaces facilities that date back to World War II when the campus was a U.S. Navy base.

The day’s festive atmosphere gave way momentarily to a more somber mood near the conclusion of the ceremony, in remembrance of an automotive program student, K.C. Halliday, who was killed in 2000.

Automotive upholstery and glass instructor Jerry Glasgow recalled his time working with Halliday on restoring the student’s purple Ford S-10 pickup truck before his untimely passing. The fully-restored truck was on display in tribute to Halliday at the grand opening, with a portrait of the young man resting in the driver’s seat.

Halliday’s mother and stepfather were on hand. “I wanted something good to come from my son’s death,” she said.