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Wallace State Community College, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Announce New Co-Op Partnership

HANCEVILLE, AL – Wallace State Community College and Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc., recently announced a new partnership, 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,” says 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,” says Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.

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 says.

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 (ACCS)—and Mercedes-Benz—the gold standard of premium automobiles—decided to partner with the best auto service tech program around,” Hodges says.

“Thank you for reaching out to Wallace State,” says 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 says.

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.

Registration is underway for Spring Semester at Wallace State. Classes begin January 7. For more information, visit www.wallacestate.edu.

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