The video of today’s announcement can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFY1X5mG_fg&feature=youtu.be
HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State Community College and Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc., announced a new partnership on Friday morning, officially kicking off a Mercedes-Benz Tech Co-Op Program.
Beginning in the Fall 2019 semester, Wallace State’s Automotive Service Technology students will be eligible to apply for the program. Students accepted into the Mercedes-Benz Co-Op program will complete semester coursework at Wallace State during the fall and spring semesters and work full-time at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance throughout the summer semesters.
“We have demands for automotive technology students, and Wallace State has a fantastic reputation. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Mercedes-Benz International is partnering with Wallace State to create this tech program,” said Rolf Wrona, Vice-President of Human Resources at Mercedes-Benz International. “This is a great opportunity for students in this community. You can get the quality education at Wallace State and the quality work experience at Mercedes-Benz.”
Wallace State students who take advantage of the program will earn $16 an hour during the first summer at the Mercedes-Benz plant in addition to having a $400 housing allowance in the Tuscaloosa area. They’ll earn $17 per hour and the housing allowance during the second summer of work. Tuition assistance is provided to students based upon their current GPA’s, and students are eligible for full-time employment at Mercedes-Benz upon completion of the program.
“We look forward to a long and mutually rewarding partnership with Mercedes-Benz to supply highly-skilled automotive technicians for the workforce. We are especially grateful for Mercedes’ significant investment in quality training,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics, who welcomed those in attendance to the event.
Mercedes-Benz announced the donation of two new Mercedes GLE class vehicles for Wallace State’s Automotive Service program to use for instructional training at the event.
“We believe it’s very important our students get hands-on experience with our products. We’re very excited to form this partnership and we’re looking forward to the tremendous opportunities that will exist for the students, Wallace State and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International,” Wrona said.
Steve Colburn, Organizational Development Specialist at Mercedes-Benz, first approached Wallace State about the potential partnership earlier this year, and it immediately sparked an interest with Jimmy Hodges, Wallace State’s Applied Technologies, and the Automotive Service program.
“This is a special day and one that will go down in history. It’s a day that the trajectory of our auto service program changes forever. It’s a day that Wallace State – the crown jewel of the Alabama Community College System – and Mercedes-Benz – the gold standard of premium automobiles – decided to partner with the best auto service tech program around,” Hodges said.
Friday’s announcement at the Burrow Center Recital Hall attracted local dignitaries, representatives from the Alabama Community College System (ACCS), Wallace State’s faculty, staff and students, and high school students from within the Cullman County system to a full house in the Recital Hall, where the announcement was made.
“Thank you for reaching out to Wallace State,” said Barry May, Executive Director of Workforce and Economic Development for the ACCS. “Work-based learning is such a critical component in education today, especially with applied technical skills. This is going to make a significant impact not only to that student who’s going to be able to benefit from the program, but it will benefit Mercedes-Benz, who is going to be able to mold highly-skilled technicians.”
“This is a type of business and education partnership we want to work to expand, promote and foster state-wide at all of our community colleges,” May said.
Wallace State’s latest industry partnership is a positive sign for local economic development. Of the students who have gone through previous Mercedes co-op programs, 25 percent have been promoted into leadership positions.
“We haven’t had a better partner than Wallace State. Cullman County leaders for years have known what great student outcomes you have, the great value of these programs and these great instructors and students. It’s exciting to hear about a company with the reputation of Mercedes, located 90 miles away, that passes other community colleges to come here and talk with our students and establishes this Co-Op program,” said Dale Greer, Director of the Cullman Economic Development Office.
Added Senator Garlan Gudger: “This is a wonderful example of collaboration between Wallace State Community College and Mercedes-Benz that will provide an exceptional educational experience combined with career opportunities. Now is the time for our citizens to truly understand the importance of career and technical education. The need for skilled, craft workers will only continue to grow in Alabama with the advances of technology that we see in every facet in our life. We have to invest in career-technical education starting at the middle school and high school level, so our students will have the insight and preparation to be successful and to progress just like one we are here celebrating today.”
Registration is underway for Spring Semester at Wallace State. Classes begin Jan. 7. For more information, visit www.wallacestate.edu.
To view more pictures from the event, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmnPrGh3
Wallace State Community College
Creative and Content Services Coordinator, Communications & Marketing
256.352.8443 | office
256.339.2422 | mobile
Director, WSCC Communications & Marketing
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000 | Hanceville, AL 35077
wallacestate.edu | burrowmuseum.edu