Old Cars, New Tricks From Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

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car repair

The Indianapolis Public Schools Career and Technology Center is a successful program that allows students from area high schools to attend and learn valuable skills in automotive repair. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance (IFBI) donates salvage vehicles to the program, and students use the donated vehicles to gain practice and experience in repairing automobile body damage.

Recently, IFBI donated four vehicles to the center: a 1992 Chevy S-10 Pick-up, a 2005 Pontiac Grand-Am, a 2006 Ford Taurus and a 2002 Pontiac Grand-Am. They were all total loss vehicles with collision-related damages. The salvage value on the vehicles ranged from $100 to $350. IFBI had only two options to dispose of salvage – either give the vehicles to the salvage yard or obtain a court order to sell the salvage. A court order typically costs around $200, and would provide little to no return to IFBI.

In order to meet the demands of a growing program, the IPS Career and Technology Center needs to provide practical experience for the students, which means there is need for more cars to work on. Many of the students who gain experience through the program go on to Lincoln Technical School and pursue a career in the auto industry.

“The educational value far outweighs what we would get for salvage,” explains IFBI Material Damage Coordinator Ralph Lawson. He’s witnessed firsthand the positive impact that the program has on its students.

Lawson has organized the auto donations from IFBI for the past several years and has gotten to know the auto collison’s program instructor, Niles Lauderbaugh, along the way. Both serve as members on the IPS Career and Technology Center’s Collision Advisory Board.

For more than 15 years, Lauderbaugh has dedicated himself to helping his students achieve success both in and out of the shop. The students attend the mostly hands-on class for three hours a day, five days a week. Several students are in their third year of the program. Every student in the program agrees that the class is the best part of the school day.

“I’ve been working on cars since I was 10 years old. I recognize that same passion in these kids, and I push them hard to really engage their brains,” says Lauderbaugh.

The students receive a wide range of experience in the program. Each of them receives the hood of an automobile to practice repairing damage, and then they get experience in painting the hood. The end result is often on par with a piece of art.

I’m blown away by what these kids create,” says Lauderbaugh, who is searching for a way to display the very heavy decorative hoods on the walls of the shop. “They need to be hung up. Their work is something to be proud of.”

Throughout the years, Lauderbaugh has worked to improve the technology, the size of the shop and the donations the program receives. “With a limited budget for the program and a high cost for supplies, we rely on donations to help give these kids a great education and experience. I’m looking out for their futures.”

There is an increasing demand for skilled workers in the auto body repair industry, and the IPS Career and Technology Center teaches students the essentials for becoming advanced workers. The insurance industry relies on skilled auto body repair technicians to help our policyholders when they have suffered damage to a vehicle. The cars donated by our company are essential learning tools to aid students’ progress as they advance in the program.

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