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Auto Collision Technology Students Paint MRAP Vehicle for Sheriff's Office

    by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
    Posted on 2/9/2023

Students in the Iowa Central Auto Collision Technology Program are accustomed to learning the routine work that comes with working in the auto body industry: repairing damage and rebuilding cars, learning the electrical and mechanical systems of vehicles, painting and working with specialized equipment; but a recent project the students completed for the Webster County Sheriff’s Office was one they don’t see every year.

The Sheriff’s Office recently acquired a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP) from Pharr, Texas through the United States Government 10-33 Surplus Program and used their connections with Iowa Central to give the students a unique experience in painting a large-scale vehicle.

“We knew this was something the students at the college had done when Storm Lake purchased theirs and they would have the paint and equipment to do it,” said Webster County Sheriff Luke Fleener. 

Fleener reached out to Iowa Central’s Vice President of Operations, Ryan Gruenberg, a former Fort Dodge Police Department captain who had served on a regional tactical unit with Fleener, to make the partnership happen. The vehicle was then delivered from Texas to the Auto Collision Technology Program’s body shop in the Crimmins Building where the students transformed the tank-like vehicle from a desert tan shade to a new matte black finish.

“The Sheriff’s Office reached out to us to see if we could convert it from a desert tan, it was definitely a different project than what we are used to—taking on that big of a task,” said Philip Thomas, associate instructor of auto collision.  

Students disassembled parts the vehicle, removed stickers and decals, covered the windows and wheels and then started the job of painting it top to bottom.

“We had to wash it three times before we could paint,” said student Draiven Hemmelrick. “We worked one section at a time. We painted the roof first, then the door jams and underneath the hood. It was an interesting experience and a challenge.”

Thomas said unlike most paint jobs, spraying a vehicle this large was a multiple person job.

“It is definitely different than your regular automobile,” said Thomas. “It’s a multi-day, multiple person job to accomplish that big of a task. You have two guys painting, one filling the paint sprayer, someone moving tables and platforms, everyone worked together as a group.”


Auto Collision Technology Students Paint MRAP Vehicle for Sheriff's Office

I chose Iowa Central because both of my parents came here and absolutely loved the environment. I was able to be a part of so many programs at once which isn't offered at other colleges. I knew right away after visiting that it would be a great school where I could better myself as a student and as an athlete.

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