LAWRENCEVILLE - Tyler Gray used one word to describe what he thought when he first saw Maxwell High School of Technology's renovated auto collision laboratory and classroom space.
Since it reopened in December, the auto collision program space has tripled and includes state-of-the-art equipment such as a vacuum extraction system that captures dust created by sanding and disposes of it outside, a downdraft spray booth for painting vehicles and an explosion-proof storage room for highly flammable liquids.
Gray, a senior at North Gwinnett High who takes auto collision courses at Maxwell, said the new space is "completely different" from the program's former quarters.
"It was compact, and there wasn't much room to move around," he said.
The newer, high-tech equipment is also exposing students to what they'll find in the industry, Gray said.
Principal Donna Powers said the program instructors focused on teaching safety and theory while the laboratory was under construction.
"Having an up-to-date lab will make the transition from school to work that much easier for the students," Powers said.
Gwinnett County Public Schools paid $827,529 for the renovations, spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.
Some of the equipment, including a paint mixing system, was donated to the school, instructor Butch Luther said.
"We're glad to see there is a facility here that will really give students state-of-the-arts training opportunities," Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said.
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