BLUE SPRINGS • Brad Crowder, who heads the automotive technology program at Itawamba Community College, was all smiles Wednesday.
Toyota Mississippi donated 10 Corollas to ICC, which will use the vehicles for hands-on training. ICC also received seven cars in 2013.
“The last cars we got were 2011 models, and we used them for various training purposes, as far as diagnostics of various systems on the automobile,” he said. “We’d pull the engines and transmissions out of the cars and put them back in. Basically just taking parts out of the cars and putting them back in.”
Toyota donated 2020 model-year Corollas which were originally used to provide onsite training for team members at Toyota’s Blue Springs facility. They aren’t road-worthy, but are drivable enough for students to dissect the vehicles and put them back together.
“These cars we’re getting have different engines, manual transmissions, automatic transmissions and we can do even more with them,” Crowder said. “Our goal is to teach our students with the newest technology as they’re going to the workforce, and these are the vehicles they’ll see at the dealerships and independent shops.”
The value of the cars was pegged at $139,000, and since 2013, Toyota Mississippi has donated 50 vehicles to various schools and programs, worth a total of nearly $700,000.
Jay Allen, president of ICC, said he deeply appreciated the school’s partnership with the automaker. ICC has played a significant role in helping with workforce with Toyota.
“We’re so proud to serve them and we appreciate the partnership with our community and our community college,” Allen said. “These cars are a great addition to our automotive technology program and gives our students a chance to work with the latest model, and the variety of models we’re getting gives them a chance to work with the latest technology.”
And with tightening budgets, it’s difficult for any school to have the funds needed to purchase all the cars and equipment needed.
“This is just a tremendous opportunity for us,” Allen said.
Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Mississippi, also praised the Toyota-ICC partnership, calling it “outstanding.”
“This will give our team and the ICC team an opportunity to grow and expand and learn from a technology standpoint to help the community and grow talent,” Suggs said.
Toyota employs some 2,000 people in Blue Springs, where production began in October 2011. The automaker has invested $1.2 billion in the plant since 2007, and is building a $10 million visitors center on campus that will open nest year.