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Old Robke Car Lot Celebrates Transformation as New Hub for Automobile Education

A former car dealership in Ft. Wright is now a hub for automobile education.

Gateway Community & Technical College ceremonially opened its Transportation Technology Center at the old Robke Chevrolet site at 1051 Dudley Road.

“This is much more than just a building. It is really an economic development tool,” said Ken Paul, chair of the Gateway Board of Directors. “Anybody can walk through that front door, unexperienced, with no skills and walk back out as an auto technician, a diesel technician, collision repair technician, truck driver, or even get hired by Ford.”

The facility has already been open to students and classes this semester but industry partners, city, county, and state officials, Gateway leadership, students, faculty and staff celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday. The location is considered to be part of Gateway's urban metro campus, which is primarily in downtown Covington.

“We are so pleased to offer our students this state-of-the-art, real-world classroom,” said Dr. Fernando Figueroa, Gateway president. “This facility offers one of many opportunities at Gateway to find your talents and express them while making a great living.”

This 33,291 square foot facility is home to Gateway’s Automotive Technology, Ford Asset, Collision Repair, Diesel Technology and Commercial Drivers Licensing (CDL) programs.

“The students are working in the exact same environment here as they would out in the field,” said Sam Collier, Dean of Transportation Technologies. “We are giving them a true experience.”

Students like Nicholas Sturgil are very excited to learn in classrooms set up much like the dealerships he hopes to work for some day.

“Dealerships are always looking for good technicians with experience in the latest technology in today’s vehicles,” said Rick Elliott, Technical Support Operations Manager for Ford Motor Company.

“There’s never been a better time to consider a career as an automotive service technician.”

The impact of the programs housed in this new facility was best expressed by Shannon Hart, a Gateway graduate. “They taught me to be an employee that my company can’t do without,” Hart said. “I went from making $9 an hour to making $60,000 a year and that is all because of this program and Gateway’s instructors.”

-Staff report

Editor's note: The slideshow below includes photos from RCN's visit to the site in September, not Wednesday's ceremony

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