CTEC receives 2022 Mercedes-Benz donation

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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By MEG HERNDON | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – On Friday, Dec. 10, the Career Technical Educational Center (CTEC) in Columbiana received a new 2022 European model Mercedes SUV that was donated to CTEC by Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.

The new SUV, which is a repurposed test vehicle, will be used by the Automotive Technology, Manufacturing, Collision Repair Technology, Robotics and Automated Manufacturing programs at CTEC.

“This is the, by far, newest, most expensive (car) that we’ve got,” said Robert Irwin, automotive technology instructor at CTEC. “This is the most technologically advanced vehicle we’ve ever had here. And what’s so cool about it is, I’m assuming that it was built here, so for Mercedes to give a local career technical high school program a brand new car, that’s good on their part, too, giving back to the community.”

Before receiving the Mercedes, the newest vehicle they had was from 2017.

The latest, advanced technology in the car will help the students familiarize themselves with the electronic side of newer vehicles, which is becoming more and more common.

“For the automotive, they have so many cars that they have to learn about the electronic, robotics, computerized side,” said CTEC supervisor, Julie Godfrey. “It’s a great thing for us for the students to be exposed and be able to learn from a newer vehicle and a vehicle that’s clearly different and that they’re not used to.”

Mercedes-Benz donated 15 sport utility vehicles valued at $700,000 across Alabama. Thirteen of which went to high schools and two went to community colleges.

Seth Hall, a Shelby County High School senior who is learning automotive technology at CTEC was excited when he heard the news about the donation.

“It’s going to be nice to learn what to do and see how everything now works and how everything connects,” Hall said.

“It’s going to help because it’s a new vehicle, and it’s electric,” Hall said. “So, if you start messing with it now and getting used to all the technology (it will help) when you go to look for a job.”

The donated car will also be useful to other CTEC programs as well, like robotics and automated manufacturing.

“One of the things that will be beneficial to us is we’ve talked a lot about wiring harnesses and how to go about repairs for wiring harnesses and finding issues with them,” said James Hill, robotics and automated manufacturing instructor. “But a lot of the students don’t really understand or know what the wiring harness is or where it’s at.”

A wiring harness is an electrical assembly, usually found underneath the dashboard, that connects all the components in a vehicle to transmit power and information to a single system.

“That’s one of the things that you can’t simulate,” Hill said. “If you got one, you got one, if you don’t, you don’t. So that’s one of the things, I think, that will benefit us.”

Mark McCary, CTEC’s collision repair technology instructor also stressed the importance and value of the car’s latest technology.

“One of the biggest (benefits) would be the modern technology that’s on it,” McCary said. “We will be able to identify the different types of material that was used in the construction of this vehicle from different types of metal to the aluminums. It’s actually got a lot of carbon fiber parts under the hood. All of the safety systems that are on it. Airbag systems, basically, just a modern car for us to work on.”