Hearty congratulations go out to Michael Broud, the automotive instructor with maintenance and light repair at Heritage High School in Palm Bay, FL. Michael is the November 2021 semi-finalist with the B’laster Tomorrow’s Technician Instructor of the Year program.
Technically, Michael has been in the teaching business since 2007 but has actually been educating since long before. Here’s his story.
“After graduating from Gibsonburg High School in Ohio, I got my associates degree in Automotive Science in 1989, at Terra Technical College in Ohio. And I worked several jobs from there, quickly got my ASEs, and my very first job was at Midas Muffler. Then I worked my way through a couple of independents and up to the biggest Ford dealership in Northwest Ohio.
Broud says he soon landed a job at research and development in General Motors, and spent several years at Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, MI, as an engineering technician. “I came in on the tail end of the EV project, and I worked for research and development in 1999 for a project with Oldsmobile. Every one of the Olds Aurora V8 cars had a hand-built aluminum deck lid made with a process that I developed called super plastic forming, or SPF. The team that I worked with designed a seal bead around it where you could blow about 800 PSI onto the die of a hot piece of aluminum that turns it to, basically, a real ductal piece of bubble gum. My process is patented, though of course, GM’s name is on it!”
Broud then spent several more years at the Proving Grounds doing research and development for Ride and Handling. However, in 2007, when the bottom dropped out of the economy, he says patents notwithstanding, he was let go.
“I guess I put myself on the who’s going list rather than the who’s staying list,” he recalls, though he admits that the light at the end of the tunnel actually got brighter with his dismissal. “When I worked with engineers in the ‘Red X Division’ at General Motors, every engineer told me, ‘Man, you should be a teacher.’ And when that job opportunity came, and Universal Technical Institute called me after I lost my job at GM, I just gravitated towards it.”
Broud moved to Florida’s Space Coast to work at the UTI located in Orlando and he says he thrived because it was a natural transition. When he heard that Palm Bay High School was opening a high school automotive program, he realized he had found his destiny.
“I opened that program in 2009, and I’ve been the only teacher there ever since,” he says. “Looking back at that, I’m still amazed at what is built from that program, from the ground up. Literally every single tool that’s in there, I help spec out. Everything that’s bolted to the ground I installed or oversaw the installation of it.”
He continues to look forward and when graduates come back to visit, he says they’re amazed as well. “They always look around and go, ‘What? What’s this?’ They’ve come back and seen what the program has become, and some of them have given back to the program. In fact, I have a couple of students that are coming in a couple of weeks to help me redo my five year ASE recertification. And they volunteered their time to come back and participate in our ASE review. It’s always getting better.”
Broud is proud of the fact that many of his former students have become some of his closest friends, who have gone on to careers in local dealerships and independent garages. He’s even more proud of how well his program prepares students for the real world.
“Caleb had never been the best at anything. He was a good kid in my class, though, and I never had a problem with that kid. Caleb just took to automotive really well. And he was like a sponge. He took in everything I gave him. When it came time for him to graduate, he decided to go to J-Tech (Institute in Jacksonville). His very first semester, suddenly he was the smartest guy in the room. And his instructor asked about S/P2 safety training, and if anybody knew anything about it, because it was new to them. And Caleb had done it for four years every single year. And he suddenly became not only the teacher’s aide, but the smartest kid in the room. And that’s the reason I do what I do.”
What Broud does is maintain a relentless pursuit of excellence. Named Teacher of the Year in 2015-2016, he says he’s constantly working with local facilities for on-the-job training programs, including new car service facilities, independent shops, motorcycle dealers and local transportation fleets. “And they want to be involved with the OJT program. They want to build their own technicians who don’t have bad habits and do have electrical skills and want to learn and computer skills so they can build good diagnosticians,” he explains.
In addition, his classes regularly participate in local, regional and national testing programs. “I do have an all-girl team that’s going to compete at Universal Technical Institute in January – go Lady Panthers! They’re going to do great.”
When his and other schools got hit with in-class teaching restrictions during the pandemic, Broud admits that the challenge was daunting.
“The initial shock of it when they said, ‘We’re going to go strictly to all remote,’ was a huge challenge for teachers who did not use electronic platform on a daily basis,” he says. Luckily, he says he had long ago established part of his program as an online component that ASE’s Education Foundation would allow.
“I made a YouTube channel of the lessons that we were supposed to do in the classroom, in the shop, I did those lessons on live vehicles in the shop and filmed it with my own cell phone,” Broud says. “Those videos are pretty bare bones. I am by no means a videographer, but I had to do something to keep them on track of what we should be accomplishing when we were in the shop.”
The kids watched the videos and learned from them – and had even more fun critiquing their teacher’s performance.
“When I watch the videos that I’ve made for teaching, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m an idiot. I’m a complete buffoon,’” Broud laughs. “But it’s entertaining to the kids, it’s captivating and it’s engaging. So, mission accomplished.”
Broud says for all the challenges, he had a great year in 2020-2021. “My classes were small but it was safe and it was manageable. I had 15 kids in a class, which was well within the reason of management. When you get to 20, it’s a lot. When you get to 25, it’s impossible. We got a lot done and we learned a lot. The proof is in the pudding, because my kids passed their ASE tests.”
Broud says being recognized as semi-finalist in the B’laster Instructor of the Year program is an incredible honor.
“Somebody told me long ago that teaching is nothing more than relentless preparation, and I’m constantly prepping for something,” he says. “It’s humbling. I’d like to thank whoever took the time, who thought enough of me to nominate me. I’m just speechless.”