When Kishwaukee College instructor Greg Brink was a kid growing up in Lombard, his older brother liked to work on cars in the family garage. Greg followed him around and learned a lot, but, mostly, he learned to love cars. “I liked working on cars with him but I was always really drawn to the look of the cars more than speed or performance,” he explained. The result? Greg became a Collision Repair Technology (CRT) professional and has been teaching young people to work on auto bodies for more than 30 years.
Greg attended the DuPage Area Vocational Education Authority (DAVEA), studying what was then called “Auto Body,” graduating in 1978. After a brief summer stint working for United Airlines, he began working in auto body shops in the Chicagoland area, fixed up cars for friends on the side, and worked on his own auto restoration projects. “I really like the older model cars,” he explained. “But newer models are where the money is in the profession.”
When his former DAVEA instructor contacted him to ask if he would be interested in teaching auto body at the Lake County Technical campus, Greg signed up and has never looked back. After being a full-time instructor at Lake County for several years, he applied at Kishwaukee College when long-time CRT instructor Butch Grainger was retiring. He has been teaching at Kishwaukee College since 2004.
Pursuing his passion has led Greg to become a Master Certified Tech, meaning he is certified in all four certification areas: Non-Structural Repair, Structural Repair, Painting and Refinishing, and Mechanical and Electrical. He is also certified as an Estimator. He has consistently tested for Master Certified Tech for 27 years and is still going strong.
Greg is also active with I-CAR Foundation and NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) and other professional organizations. He is an Evaluation Team Leader for NATEF, traveling the country to evaluate CRT programs at high schools and colleges for certification. His state, regional, and national work has brought many benefits to the Kishwaukee College CRT program, from donations of tools, equipment and cars to scholarship and internship opportunities.
Greg has also long been an active member of the Illinois College Automotive Instructors Association (ICAIA), having served as president of the organization. Currently, he serves as the Auto Body Consultant to the ICAIA Board. “ICAIA has two conferences every year so instructors can receive up-to-date training,” he said. “And it’s a great place to network with instructors from across the state to share classroom and shop practices.”
His students find themselves learning from a practical and practiced professional who is focused on the student experience. “When I was a kid we built models and go-carts. A lot of young people today don’t have those experiences,” he said. “But they love cars. I start at the beginning so they get the basic skills with tools they need to be successful.”
Working on car bodies has changed over the years. “The biggest change is in the use of computers in the vehicles,” he explained. “Even something as simple as repairing a window switch now includes some computerized functions. If a bumper needs to be replaced, part of that now involves resetting and reprogramming the vehicle’s computer. People like the collision avoidance sensors and things, but that means fixing a simple repair in the bumper is more complicated than it used to be.”
The more complex systems throughout vehicles mean that working on auto body repair requires additional education and training like that offered in the CRT program at Kish. As Greg noted, as the vehicles’ complexity changed, the profession even changed the job title from “Auto Body” to “Collision Repair Technology.” The training and education in technology is necessary to work in the field successfully.
Through all the changes he has seen in the industry, what keeps Greg Brink in CRT? “It is still challenging, every day is something different,” he explained. “And I just still like cars.”
For more information on the Collision Repair Technology Program at Kishwaukee College, contact Greg Brink at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 815-825-9416.