Meet Nick Hummel, B'laster Instructor Of The Year Candidate -

Meet Nick Hummel, B’laster Instructor Of The Year Candidate

NIck Hummel, at Beachwood, OH's Matrix Trade Institute Is our next B'laster Instructor of the Year candidate.

Where does passion for a career come from? In some cases, it’s hereditary. In others, it’s being in the right place at the right time. For Nick Hummel, collision repair instructor at Matrix Trade Institute in Beachwood, OH, it’s actually a little of both.

He started by helping a family member paint a Jeep when he was younger. This wasn’t an altogether altruistic move, because the Jeep was part of a much more complex series of trades between his uncle, a friend, the aforementioned Jeep and a Dodge Dakota pickup truck that Hummel had taken a fancy too.

Seeing the vehicle’s dramatic transformation with some paint and elbow grease, he was impressed enough to want to do the work on a more regular basis – but on a bit smaller scale.

“That summer after I helped my uncle paint that thing, I started buying model cars and painting those and putting ’em together. I learned a lot that way,” Hummel says. “Because those model kits really get in detail about what parts look like and where they go. “This is an engine; this is a valve cover; this is a transmission; this is a control arm. I really enjoyed the paint and body side of things, and I had an opportunity to go to a vocational school where I got into the collision program. That’s where things kind of turned away from just the paint side, but more into learning more about the real-world structure of the car and how the car is assembled and parts are put together.”

Rick Blum, president of Matrix Trade institute, says Hummel prides himself in his knowledge and ability with over 20 years’ experience in the collision field.

“Nick is a graduate of a two-year high school vocational program where he graduated with perfect attendance and top of his class. He has worked at some reputable shops across Northeast Ohio and has built a great reputation,” he says. ”Nick has his Class A CDL but realized truck driving was not the career he wanted. He returned to the collision field as an instructor, sharing his knowledge and skills. He says the most rewarding part of the job is when you see the light bulb turn on and the student understands what is being instructed and taught. We are proud to say Nick is here to stay!”

Blum says Hummel has spent tireless amounts of hours refining Matrix Trade Institute’s curriculum into what it is today. “His fresh look and ability to make tasks fun have led to the creation of multiple teaching aids such as fastener boards that students can use to see how they hold materials together as well as how to connect them (B’laster is always discussed for those tough ones!). Plexiglass channels are designed for students to learn how sealants are properly applied in areas of the vehicles that cannot be seen.”

To help make the idea of painting less intimidating, Hummel has developed an innovative technique. “One unconventional approach he takes to training is to start students’ paint application education by spraying just water through the guns. They shoot large pieces of paper and it shows them coverage, spray pattern, and helps build confidence before paint is put in their hands. He will have the students mask desks during the paint prep class to show them how to apply to uneven surfaces and different contours. Also, he uses pop cans to get them to understand the ‘first in last out’ approach to dent pulling,” Blum says. “Nick has also created a fun project at the end of our welding program that uses all the skills students learned during the program to create a cube.”

Hummel is aggressive about recruiting students for the program and then preparing them for their career. Matrix prides itself on creating a learning environment close to the real-world shop experience. With that in mind, he runs a production meeting first thing before entering the shop. They discuss vehicles and repairs required, and then tasks are assigned to students. This process has even grown to having a student assigned to shop lead to help manage the days tasks, Blum says. “He has certainly created an impactful culture and learning environment.

“While his creations and presentation are exciting, we must not lose sight of the most important factor: That is the students,” Hummel’s boss explains. “Nick has a students-come-first attitude and it is apparent every day. We have a running joke that Nick tries to steal the auto students for his collision program at every open house. Last open house he set up the spray booth with stencils (he made) and spray guns, welding tasks, videos running on the television and the glue-pulling station ready for a try.”

Perhaps hearkening back to those days of building shelf trophies from plastic model kits, Hummel prides himself on creative recognition for his students, too.

“His encouragement to students has also helped create his awards which he builds by hand. Some of his awards are the Golden Paint Can for the top sprayer and the Golden Hammer for the top body student. And he now creates the Golden Wrench for students in our mechanical classes,” says Blum. “It has been a joy getting to know Nick and seeing him grow into an exceptional instructor. It only makes sense to nominate him for this award.”

For more information on the 2023-2024 B’laster Instructor of the Year program or to nominate a worthy instructor, visit Tomorrow’s Technician today.

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