Ulster BOCES Automotive Collision Program Offers All The Right Tools

Ulster BOCES Automotive Collision Program Offers All The Right Tools

Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For Evan Ricci of the Kingston City School District, a high school senior who is in his second year of the Ulster BOCES Automotive Collision Technology program, it meant adding new skills, techniques, and resources to his “toolbox.” 

Evan, a self-described classic car enthusiast who wanted to be able to paint, rebuild, and do custom work on cars, found that the Automotive Collision Technology program was just what he was looking for.  In this program, the students (known at Ulster BOCES as young professionals) are immersed in the full spectrum of repairing, restoring, and rebuilding damaged auto bodies. Through their hands-on work, they learn the techniques of complete auto collision repair, including sheet metal work and frame repair; painting and refinishing; exterior and interior trim and glass; and mechanical and electrical adjustments and repairs. 

The young professionals also practice the art of customizing, an increasingly popular aspect of the trade, as well as learn how to estimate repair costs and manage their own repair shop. Graduates receive several industry certifications, including ones that Evan said will facilitate his own long-term plans, which involve opening a collision shop of his own.

Evan, who began participating in the Ulster BOCES Capstone work-study program in 2022, landed a paid internship at Larsen Restoration and Design in Kingston. Larsen Restoration has offered internships to the Ulster BOCES program for more than 10 years–longer than any other business. 

Evan continued to work at Larsen throughout the summer months, and still works there today. At Larsen, he is gaining real-world work experience as he rebuilds rusting vehicles into show cars. On any given day, he may be engaged in anything from repairing panels on a damaged car’s body, for example, or doing a custom paint job on panels. Or he may be working on fixing a car’s suspension, rebuilding a vintage motor, reupholstering the interior, or anything else that is required to make the car like new. 

Evan said that his classroom and internship experience have been invaluable as he seeks to achieve his career goals. “I’ve learned everything I need to do to restore a car, handle customers, and run a business,” he said. 

“Evan has been phenomenal,” remarked Cathy Larsen, manager of Larsen Restoration. “He has been a star intern. Always prepared, always wanting to know more; he is hungry to learn.” Larsen said they train their Ulster BOCES interns “from the ground up” leading to satisfied customers who are impressed with the quality of the work done. Larsen wants all of the Ulster BOCES interns to learn as much as possible because industry knowledge about vintage and classic cars is fading away. “We do custom upholstery, this is a dying craft. I have been teaching Evan how to use industrial sewing machines and teaching him how to make custom interiors. He does custom painting and body work, building engines, metal work, and more. He just painted some parts on a 1970 Mustang. Our motto is keeping vintage modern. We also update vintage cars with modern features and technology, especially for safety as well.” 

“I get to use what I have learned at BOCES and Larsen’s on my car and my friends’ cars,” Evan said, who has restored his own classic car and replaced the motor. Evan said he also enjoys custom interior work, such as rebuilding seats. 

“Evan really loves painting,” said Automotive Collision Technology instructor, Matthew Clark. “He even added flames to a desk. I would say his strength is custom painting. Evan is a good student; well-driven and carries himself properly. He comes in and does his work. He is self-motivated.” Evan admitted that prior to his involvement in the Automotive Collision Technology program that he never would have described himself as “driven and self-motivated.” He says now, he can concur. 

Evan recommends the program. “It’s really good for your future if this is what you want to do. It is great to go into the trade if you want to make money too, and the field does not have many people in it.” 

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