Wallace State has first students sign with Mercedes-Benz Tech Co-Op program

Wallace State had six Automotive Service Technology students sign to become a part of the Mercedes-Benz Tech Co-Op program. They are, from left, Jorge Perez, Dylan Krohe, Adam Carney, William Wilkerson, Austin Thompkins and Roberto Perez.   

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College has ushered in its first set of Automotive Technology students to be accepted into the Mercedes-Benz Tech Co-Op.

Students Jorge Perez, Adam Carney and Austin Thompkins of Cullman; William Wilkerson of Birmingham, Dylan Krohe of Hartselle and Roberto Perez of Russellville were recognized at a signing ceremony at the James C. Bailey Center on Friday.  

Wallace State and Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. launched the partnership last December with the goal of introducing the first group this semester. Through the program, these six students and those selected in the future 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.

“This is an awesome day to be at Wallace State. It’s one of the best community colleges in Alabama, and this is a great opportunity for these students. We’ve been anticipating this day since our kickoff last November,” said Steve Colburn, organizational development specialist at Mercedes-Benz. “I’m very excited for all of you and to see you progress through college and our plant. My top goal is to see you be successful in this program.”

Roberto Perez became familiar with the Mercedes Tech Co-Op program while in high school at Russellville and wanted to pursue those prospects at Wallace State.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I love working on cars. It comes natural to me, so I know this program is going to help me tremendously,” Perez said.

Wallace State students in 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.

“This is an important day. We’re thrilled for the opportunity these students have and we’re excited for their future. It’s also a great day for our Automotive Service Technology Department,” said Jamie Blackmon, Wallace State’s Center for Career and Workforce Development director.

Wallace State recognized the students during National Apprenticeship Week. For more information, visit www.apprenticeship.gov/national-apprenticeship-week.

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.

Steve Colburn is the organizational development specialist at Mercedes-Benz.