Meet Terry Van Dyke
Like a lot of gearheads, Terry Van Dyke grew up loving all things automobile. He learned early on that putting his hands on anything mechanical provided not only the satisfaction of repairing, creating, and understanding, but it provided a foundation he continues to pass along to his students in the Hawkeye Community College Auto Collision Technologies program.
"My older brother started fixing cars in our family garage," he explains, "so I wasn't far away from the projects he started taking on as he got better and better mechanical skills." Terry started not only hanging out while his brother wrenched, but picked up some tools, gaining some experience himself.
Eventually Terry decided working on vehicles was his calling. He learned how to form, weld, and repair metal, properly prep for repainting, and what it took to lay down great color without glaring mistakes so many novice painters have to contend with as they learn the ins and outs of paint application.
Working in several commercial collision operations, Terry also had side gigs building cars, allowing him to hone his mechanical skills while letting his creative side go to work solving problems.
"I started working at a custom shop (Special Effects Street Rods) building turnkey street rods and customs," Terry describes. "As my work progressed it wasn't long before I started fabricating suspension parts and building frames, as well as doing bodywork and paint."
Terry eventually went the route of doing collision repair and building customs after hours, including his own 64 1/2 Mustang which he converted from a coup to a fastback. He also did a custom Pro Street '36 Ford 3-window coupe, and a 1953 Studebaker for Yogi's Inc. owner Mel Somerville, which graced the cover of Custom Rodder and Popular Hot Rodding magazines.
These projects allowed him to expand his knowledge outside the realm of collision repair, while learning how those commercial operations functioned, giving him an understanding of the business side of things. "I spent 31 years in the business," he explains, "and it's given me an education few people get the opportunity to learn. So now I get to pass that knowledge along to a younger generation of enthusiasts."
Terry joined the teaching staff at Hawkeye Community College in 2012 and has implemented a number of new technology processes to give students a solid head start on their careers in the automotive refinishing and repair industry. These technologies include utilizing a virtual paint system where students can understand and experience a variety of paint techniques, how to reduce costs and paint waste, and improve their efficiency in the paint booth.
He supervises the tools and equipment used in the industry to work on a variety of different vehicle makes and models sos students can gain real-world experience, including the specific skills needed to be involved in the restoration and modification of vintage vehicles.