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Alexander City’s Matt Stroud leverages free Gateway education, lands auto job

Published 7:14pm Friday, April 1, 2011

Hyundai hired Stroud as a member of the its Maintenance Team before he graduated CACC

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama is a $1.4 billion plant located in Montgomery that employs more than 2,700 people with high paying jobs and full benefits.

Alexander City native Matt Stroud is one of those employees.

Stroud, a Maintenance Team Member at Hyundai, is a 2004 graduate of Benjamin Russell High School and a 2006 graduate of Central Alabama Community College.

The now 25-year-old earned an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Industrial Electronics Technology at CACC after receiving a scholarship through The Gateway to Education Scholarship Assistance Program, an initiative administered by the Alexander City Chamber Foundation that provides up to 64 credit hours of free college tuition to BRHS graduating seniors who meet the entrance requirements to CACC.

During his time at CACC, Stroud focused on manufacturing technology classes and was even able to land a job about a month prior to earning his associate degree.

“(Hyundai) hired me before I graduated from CACC,” Stroud said. “I started working here July 17, 2006. I’m not sure when the graduation date was for CACC – it was sometime in August 2006 – but I was working down here before I graduated.”

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama is Hyundai’s first U.S. manufacturing facility and its employees are bringing to life Hyundai’s new design direction called “Fluidic Sculpture” with the production of the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra vehicles, according to the company’s website. They also build the 4-cylinder 2.0L Turbo and 2.4L Theta Gasoline Direct Injection and Multi Port Injection engines for the Hyundai Sonata and for vehicles built at Kia Motors Manufacturing in Georgia, according to the website.

As a Maintenance Team member, Stroud works in the company’s welding and maintenance shops conducting service and maintenance on the equipment.

The wages for the plant’s production and maintenance workers are some of the highest in the area. A news release issued by the company said the wages for Maintenance Team Members start at $18.50 per hour and progress to $24 per hour after two years.

Stroud, who now lives in Eclectic and commutes to his job in Montgomery, said he is grateful to the Gateway to Education program for giving him the opportunity to attend CACC tuition-free and earn an associate degree because it led him to where he is now.

“It was a good program,” Stroud said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been going to college. The most important thing is getting that piece of paper – it gives you a lot of knowledge.”

He said he also owes a lot to CACC, particularly Industry Training Specialist Mike Mann and Electronics Instructor Barry Duck, who he called his “two primary instructors.”

“You could tell they had worked in the area before,” Stroud said. “They weren’t just teaching from the book – they were teaching from their own experiences.”

Mann added that he is not surprised by Stroud’s success in the classroom, saying that he was both a very good student and a very good role model during his time at CACC.

“He applies himself and takes initiative in his work – he gives it 100 percent,” Mann said.

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