College & Community Relations

New satellite TV program to feature Aims student autobody project

Submitted on: 09-16-2004

The aftermath of Jason Ensz’s project to repaint the jeep his late uncle left him shines bright in the afternoon sun. Hints of turquoise flames shoot across the freshly painted gray sheen on the 1975 CJ5’s hood as the 22-year-old admires the somewhat finished product. He runs his hand across his stubbly brown hair, then faintly over the new coat of paint with the pride of a job well done. Fade to black. Though he has plans for several more improvements, the better part of his story will soon be fodder for television. While Ensz toiled for five weeks on the jeep to get a good grade in his summer auto collision repair painting class at Aims, a crew from High Noon Productions in Denver filmed his every move. They plan to turn the Jeep into the subject of an episode of the new program called Trade School on the Do-It-Yourself Network, which is seen in 22 million homes across the United States through satellite and cable television. Jason’s jeep should make the airwaves in January, they said. Between now and January, show producers will create 26 segments for the program, all focusing on people learning new trades, in which they follow apprenticeship workers or trade school students through a project. In addition to Ensz’s jeep, they’re working on a show featuring a woodworker from another community college, a gunsmith student at a trade school, an upholstery student from Denver, and a man doing on-the-job training for deck building. The company hopes to return to Aims in the fall to feature a welding student. “This show is a new area for DIY Network,” producer Matt Walker explained. “It really seeks to capture the passion people have for their projects and find interesting people who are learning a new occupation or skill.” In the eyes of the shows producers, Ensz’s project made good TV. “He was taking a jeep from a state of moderate disrepair and fixing it and giving it a great paint job, and the jeep also has sentimental value because it’s from his late uncle,” Walker said. Ensz explained that his uncle Kevin Smith was a nuclear welder in the Navy who was gone much of his own children’s lives. “Not even a year after he came home in 1999, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He left the jeep to me and my dad. “Once I get out of school and get a decent job, it’ll be mine because then, I’ll have money to put into it,” Ensz said. “I just want to make it meaner.” Producers interviewed six students before picking Ensz, who lost every hint of camera-shyness early on. “It was kind of weird at first having the camera follow me a round,” said Ensz, a microphone clipped to his shirt. “After the first day, I just kept working and did my own thing. … It’s going to be cool to be on TV. Everyone jokes about wanting my autograph.” Throughout the show, viewers also will see interviews with Ensz’ instructor, Pat Hergenreter. He explains the painting process and discusses Ensz’ progress, and offers commentary on getting into the industry. “To be a good technician in this industry today, you’ve got to be a car guy,” Hergenreter said, as a bright light shown down to properly illuminate his face for the filming. “If you don’t have some background, I don’t think you’ll make it.” Ensz is planning to get his associate’s degree in Aims Auto Collision Repair program next year; he hopes to some day own his own auto body and hot rod shop. He also plans to continue work on the jeep. He still plans to redo the dashboard inside and put diamond plates on portions of the exterior. He wasn’t as close with his uncle as he would have liked, Ensz said. But, this process has definitely brought out his uncle’s memory. “I’ve been thinking about him throughout this whole thing,” Ensz said. “I’m going to pinstripe his name above the Jeep symbol so it reads, ‘Kevin’s Jeep.’ I’m sure he’d be happy with this.”

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