ASE Renewal App Helps Techs Extend Certifications

You can now renew your ASE certifications without stepping foot in a test center thanks to the ASE Renewal App. To date, more than 100 ASE Certified technicians have extended their certification expiration dates by one year through an app on their phones, tablets or computers. The program is available only to technicians who are already certified in the automobile series of tests (tests A1-A9).

“The ASE Renewal App program is about giving technicians options for how they manage their professional certifications,” said Tim Zilke, ASE president and CEO.  “We are grateful to the 100 early adopters of the program, who provided crucial feedback that will improve the ASE Renewal App. They are truly an elite group of professionals who are focused on excellence in their careers.”

Participants in the ASE Renewal App program commit only a few minutes per certification area per month to answering questions, so it takes an average of 8 months to extend certifications by a year. Learning is a strong emphasis of the program. Question content focuses on the leading-edge technology on modern vehicles or issues that technicians typically have difficulty diagnosing.

“Kudos to the question developers. The questions are relevant, and if I weren’t currently going through dealer level training, I would be doing much worse answering the questions in the app. Harder questions only build value in ASE certifications,” said Mike Y. from Deptford, New Jersey, an ASE Master Automobile Technician, L1 Certified, and an early adopter of the ASE Renewal App.

For more information about the program, visit


SEMA Names 10 Schools For 2019-2020 High School Build Program

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has announced the 10 participating high schools for the 2019-2020 SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program, a project that reaches, inspires and supports high school students to learn about the automotive aftermarket industry and debuted less than three years ago with just one participating school.

California’s Santa Ynez Valley Union High School is among the 10 schools that will participate in the 2019-2020 SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program, which supports students to learn about the automotive aftermarket industry.

Four schools that participated last year will return to the program this year, with six new schools joining.

“The continuous success of this program speaks volume to the positive impact auto-technology programs have when offered in high school curricula,” said Katie Hurst, SEMA youth engagement programs manager. “SEMA is proud to provide these students with an avenue to further expand their advancement to a career in the automotive industry.”

Over the course of the semester, students will gain hands-on-experience with aftermarket products, instilling them with skills in project management, installation, body-styling and team building. Vehicles incorporated in this year’s program will include third-generation Toyota 4Runners and Jeep Wrangler TJs.

The chosen high schools for the 2019-2020 SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program are:

  • Career Center High School–Winston Salem, NC
  • Comstock High School–Kalamazoo, MI
  • John Hersey High School–Arlington Heights, IL
  • McGavock High School–Nashville, TN
  • Mon Valley Career & Technology Center–Charleroi, PA
  • Omaha Public Schools Career Center–Omaha, NE
  • R.L. Turner High School–Carrollton, TX
  • Santa Fe ECO–Santa Fe, NM
  • Santa Ynez Valley Union High School–Santa Ynez, CA
  • Wichita Falls Career Education Center–Wichita Falls, TX

“The part I loved was seeing all the new aftermarket parts we got to work with,” said Rogelio Martinez, a senior at Santa Fe Early Career Opportunities High School, who participated in last year’s build. “It’s a passion for each and all of us to work with cars, and when we get neat parts like this it’s just that much better.”

Upon the completion of the builds, each vehicle will be auctioned off with the proceeds being reinvested into the program to further expand another round of builds for the 2020-2021 school year. As participants of the program, each high school will also receive industry recognition through the SEMA build website and SEMA build promotions.   

Click, here, to check out our story about C.D. Hylton High School’s SEMA Jeep build from last year’s program.


Engine Swap: Chesapeake Career Center Students Give Volvo New Life

Cars are one of those things where you never really know what you’re going to get. So much is going on under the hood, and modifications can take an everyday driver to the drag race. 

Chesapeake Career Center students with the Volvo project car. All photos provided by Chesapeake Career Center.

When welding technology instructor John Sommers and automotive technology instructor Chris Freeman stumbled on an old broken down Chevy Suburban, they brought it back to the school for a fun project for their students. Over the next few months the students at Chesapeake Career Center would take it apart as a donor car to breathe life back into an old Volvo station wagon Mr. Freeman had purchased off Craigslist. 

“To take the larger American V8 and to get it to fit into a small Swedish car, the motor came in and out about six times,” says John Sommers. “We would drop the motor in, see how everything was clearing with a crawl under the car.”

Through partnership between the welding and automotive department, the students got the car on the road. Then the auto body class, under instructor Abe Sells, fixed up the exterior and paint job.

Made of Metal

Sommers’ welding students were in charge of fitting and welding the motor into place, building motor mounts and welding them into place. Often the students would come in early in the morning before school started to work on the project and return after school.

The Craigslist Volvo station wagon before its rehab.

“To have their help and their labor and their motivation to get up at five o’clock in the morning and come to school and then come back after school was phenomenal,” adds Mr. Sommers.

“We had to do new motor mounts for the LS motor and then we also had to do the transmission mounts,” said Dalen Capehart, senior welding student. “With the motor mounts, we had a shift in the hood and had to weld in a really tight space. For the transmission mounts, all we could do was just cut bars and mount plates.”

Under the hood of the Volvo with the Suburban engine.

The motor mounts were completely fabricated and it took a bit of trial and error after installing them too high and bumping their heads before getting them just right. In the end, the motor fit like it was meant to be.

“We had to cut the oil pan too because it was hitting on the crossmember,” added Shane Phelps, senior welding student. “So we cut it, shortened it and made it fit in. And then we had to put in exhaust, so we ran the exhaust straight out from the headers to the front fenders. And then we also had to mount the seats.”

The students also made a new gas pedal.

“To see something come in that is basically dead and then use all your skills you’ve learned from years of being in a class to put it together, and see it come to life, I think that’s the best part,” says Mason Krawzik, senior welding student. 

Misfit Parts

The automotive students got to work getting the new motor running once the engine, exhaust and transmission were back in place. Parts were all sourced from junk cars around the shop.

“My favorite part was being able to get different parts from different cars and putting it into one main car and getting it right and making it better,” says Devonte Moore, senior automotive student.

The auto body class refinished the Volvo’s exterior.

“We had to cut the stock wiring harness with the LS to make it run stand alone, so it could run without all the other computers that were in a Suburban,” added Travis Waddell, also an automotive senior. 

Following the wiring harness, senior auto student Aldo Ramos took care of the O2 sensors and exhaust issues that needed attention. The car also needed plenty of cleaning.

“Anything that looks shiny on the car, it was my job to go along with my classmate and clean it up,” says Aldo. “We just made the car look nice and presentable.”

The motor was pretty dirty after being neglected for years, but some dish soap cleaned it right up.  

In addition, the steering system proved to be a little more difficult than expected. The high pressure hose kept blowing off, so a custom hose was made and fit to solve the problem. 

The finished Volvo with fresh paint, new parts and a Suburban engine.

There were also some leaks in the transmission, so seals had to be made. 

“I had to stay back and pull the tamper seal out for the gear slip on one side of the transmission because it kept leaking,” notes Travis.

The electric fan in the Volvo would also shake and rattle. They got a new fan from a Ford Taurus and then ran a ground wire from behind the motor to connect it to the fan and relay. 

“Actually having a project that’s cool gives me motivation and makes me want to keep learning about building cool stuff like swapping motors from other cars and fabricating. I think it was for everyone overall a fine project,” says Aldo.


Auto Student And Capitol Tire & Auto Service Employee Wins Federated Car Care And Women In Auto Care Scholarships

Tabitha Harris, an automotive student and Capitol Tire & Auto Service employee in Dover, Delaware, was recently awarded academic scholarships from Federated Car Care and Women in Auto Care to pursue a career in automotive.

Women In Auto Care Scholarship Winner Tabitha Harris
Tabitha Harris accepts her $5,000 check as the 2019 Women in Auto Care Scholarship winner at AAPEX.

A graduate of Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown, Delaware, Harris studied in the school’s automotive technical program and also worked at Capitol Tire & Auto Service during her senior year. She is attending University of Northwestern Ohio and plans to major in diesel technology.

Harris was awarded honored for her accomplishments during the 2019 Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo‎ (AAPEX) in Las Vegas at the annual Women in Auto Care reception.

“We congratulate Tabitha on these tremendous achievements and wish her great success as she continues her education and her automotive career,” said John Marcum, director of marketing of Federated Auto Parts. “We are proud to have Capitol Tire & Auto Service as a Federated Car Care member and are delighted that scholarships from Federated Car Care and Women in Auto Care will help Tabitha advance her automotive education.”


Tech Garage Season Six Returns With Chipola Auto Instructor Host

Tech Garage season 6 is returning to Motortrend TV in the New Year with its ASE master-certified instructor and host John Gardner.

Tech Garage Host John Gardner
Chipola College Automotive instructor John Gardner has signed on for season 6 of the television show, Tech Garage, presented by airing on MotorTrend TV.

Gardner of Chipola College will continue to share his educational tips on automotive systems along with Bryan Gregory’s DIY driveway tips.

“It’s amazing and humbling to look back at 2015 when I started the show at Chipola College,” said Gardner. “I never thought it would grow into what it is today. Teaching and training on the automotive systems seemed pretty boring to me, but I guess it intrigued everybody. They wanted to know how and why the systems worked along with the detailed diagnosis and repairs. No other show was really covering in-depth like we did. Then in season two Bryan Gregory joined us with a DIY driveway aspect, further strengthening the show.”

The educational television show Tech Garage is returning for season 6 on Jan. 4, 2019, on Motor Trend TV network, formerly Velocity.

“It’s a win-win for the automotive industry and helps our local panhandle area with economic development,” added Gardner. “I am excited about the new season more than ever and I’m grateful to so many people who make this happen.”


TechForce Announces 2019 Techs Rock People’s Choice Grand Prize Winner

TechForce Foundation announced Melina Algier, a service technician at Farnsworth Chevrolet in Canandaigua, New York, has been named the 2019 People’s Choice Grand Prize Winner of its second annual Techs Rock Awards.

The Techs Rock Awards recognize working technicians who are striving to mentor and inspire the next generation of technicians, bringing excellence to their workplaces and communities, and demonstrating passion and commitment to the profession.

Algier prevailed over four other finalists who competed in an online, people’s choice vote in which more than 4,000 votes were cast. In addition to the TechForce $1,000 tool voucher sponsored by Snap-on that she received for winning Rookie of the Year, Melina will receive roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations to Scottsdale, Arizona to enjoy Arizona Auto Week 2020 and be honored at the annual TechForce Foundation Summit.

“I have dedicated myself to proving that women can work in the automotive industry and that a young adult could have the strength and ability to learn hands-on through their peers and an open understanding mind,” said Algier “Given the opportunity GM gave me, I’ve been able to move up to line tech in under a year. They’ve given me every resource I need to move up such as: training, special tools, resources and a friendly environment.”

“The fact that the public chose Melina as it Grand Prize Winner shows that attitudes about women techs are changing as they are being recognized for their capable contributions. She sets a great example for others to follow,” states Jennifer Maher, executive director of TechForce Foundation.

About Melina from her nomination: “Melina joined the shop a year and a half ago with only one year experience as a lube tech at an establishment that told her that was all she could do because she was a girl. As the first female technician in our dealership, she quickly graduated from maintenance work to a line technician. In 12 months she has completed over 70 GM certified courses and is now ready to start testing for ASE certifications. Melina now trains new incoming students and interns… She simply gets along with everyone. Mel has a great ability to work smarter, not stronger. She is very ingenious in using tools and research to make heavy jobs easier. She has a tremendous work ethic, arrives on time every day, and is eager to listen and learn from senior technicians. On days with heavy snow, Melina is the first to work and helps clear snow from sidewalks and customers’ cars. Melina has broken a lot of stereotypes around the industry being only for men. She is a wonderful example of dedication and pursuing the career that you want, not the one others think you should have…”

More than 280 working techs nationwide were nominated for one of five categories. TechForce Foundation’s panel of industry judges selected category winners who then competed in a national online vote for Peoples’ Choice Grand Prize Winner. Category judges included Bogi Lateiner, Bogi’s Garage; Greg Rintala, Snap-on Tools; Lyn St. James, race car driver; Tommy and Stephanie Pike, Tommy Pike Customs; and Julia Landauer, NASCAR driver. Category winners were:

  • Pay It Forward – Jason Katzenberger, Kunes Country Ford in Delavan, Wisconsin
  • Rookie of the Year – Melina Algier, Farnsworth Chevrolet in Canandaigua, New York
  • Die Hard Tech – Christopher Owen,M. Burritt Motors in Oswego, New York
  • Outstanding Mentor – Michael Owens, Fullerton Ford in Somerville, New Jersey
  • Barrier Buster – Samantha Britton, Billy Howell Lincoln Ford in Cumming, Georgia

“It’s been amazing to see the energy, enthusiasm and engagement the industry’s had for the Techs Rock Awards,” shares Julia Landauer, participating judge and NASCAR race car driver. “This award isn’t about how fast they can turn a wrench or their technical achievements, but about giving back, being involved in the lives of future techs, and helping others who want to follow in their steps succeed.”

To learn more about the 2019 Techs Rock Awards and the other category winners, visit


From The Editor: Expectation v. Reality – Being A Tech Is Still A Dirty Job

This column originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Tomorrow’s Technician.

The automotive industry has always had a “cool” factor to it. With more and more reality TV shows and YouTube stars showing off their automotive skills, it’s a hot industry right now. So why do we keep seeing young automotive technicians leave the industry?

The answer is a lot of things that would take more than my column to go over, but a big part of it is a good ol’ reality check. This isn’t anything new for any industry. We get this perception early on how a job is going to be. The end goal is never instantaneous and that can be troubling to some. 

As a millennial, I grew up watching YouTube videos to learn just about everything from how to change the oil in my 2001 Ford Focus to how to unlock my sister’s door with a bobby pin. YouTube influencers in the automotive sphere are killing it on the platform, and shows about custom shops are all over cable and streaming services. With their custom hot rods and out-of-this-world projects, they show a more glamorous side to the industry that we all love. But, don’t let the allure of these shows fool you. Being the next big custom shop is not easy. It’s going to take a lot of time, money and dirt under your fingernails. You gotta get under the hood and get dirty before you make it big. The fact is, you probably aren’t going to make big bucks when you first start – but you have the ability to grow and work toward higher paid jobs to make a good living. You also are going to have to do jobs you don’t want to do. You’re going to have to do those brake jobs and oil changes before you rebuild an engine or do a custom paint job. 

Knowing the reality early should not scare you away, but quite the opposite. So many students start off with an unrealistic perception of the industry and they reject it once they realize it’s not what they expected. 

Work hard and expect to get a little dirty. Despite what many in the industry say, being a technician is still a dirty job. You’re not going to be wearing a white lab coat anytime soon, which is a good thing. The grease on your shirt is something you should be proud to wear.  


Contact Carley at [email protected]

Follow @CarleyMillhone on Twitter


Tomorrow’s Tech, Continental Surprise November Student Of The Month At Ohio Technical College

November Continental Student of the Month Vanessa Field with Ohio Technical College staff, Continental representatives and Tomorrow’s Tech editor. Photo by OTC.

Tomorrow’s Technician and technology company Continental surprised the November Student of the Month yesterday morning with a visit to her class at Ohio Technical College (OTC) in Cleveland, Ohio.

Vanessa Field, a soon-to-be February 2020 graduate of the automotive technology program at OTC, was honored with a custom plaque of her November Student of the Month feature as well as swag from Continental.

Continental also shared the ins and outs of their belts and hoses with Vanessa’s class, and opened the class up to an in-depth discussion on real-world situations technicians with face when servicing belts and hoses.

Vanessa with Continental’s Sue Deckard and Tom Lee.

Continental partnered with Tomorrow’s Tech in 2019 to recognize the top students pursuing automotive careers with the Student of the Month program. The program spotlights automotive students nominated by their instructors with a special article in Tomorrow’s Tech each month.

Eight students were selected and featured in a “Continental Student of the Month“ profile in Tomorrow’s Tech and Each “Continental Student of the Month” had their photo and a Q&A published in Tomorrow’s Tech and received a commemorative plaque for their achievement.

To learn more about the Continental Student of the Month program, visit


Rolling Meadows High School Instructor Named November Finalist For 2020 ‘B’laster Instructor Of The Year’

Tomorrow’s Technician and B’laster are once again looking for instructors who “think outside of the toolbox” with the second-annual “B’laster Instructor of the Year” program. Our November Finalist shares how teaching should always be about the students, and how he helps develop his students into self-sufficient techs with a drift car project. 

Words by Joel Dufkis

I’ve been working on cars for as long as I can remember. My grandfather owned a service station in Chicago and it almost feels like it’s in my blood. My father taught me a lot about working on cars along with a host of other skills that really helped me to become confident in my skill set. In high school, my auto shop teacher Roger Basrak helped me hone my skills and was a huge influence on me. Little did I know that the lessons he taught me then would lead me to where I am now. 

After high school, I worked for the independent repair shop Stephens Automotive, where I worked as a technician under some of the best in the business. In 2007 I decided to change my career path and went into education. I’ve always enjoyed teaching people new things and when I really thought about it, I’d have the greatest impact helping students find their passion and hopefully setting them up for success later in life as an instructor. Fast forward to today and I’m in my 10th year of teaching and 8th year at Rolling Meadows High School.

My teaching philosophy is to create an atmosphere where the students know you’re there for them, that any issue from an automotive one to a personal one, that I’m there. I got into teaching for the students – it’s all about them and helping them further themselves in life. The day it stops being about the students is the day I’ll return back to the industry because it’s not fair to the students if you’re not 100% in it for them. 

I run my classes in some unique ways. In my advanced classes we do a lot of live work on staff vehicles. It’s a great opportunity for students to simulate a shop environment and really learn how to function as a team, and it allows them to work on a variety of vehicles with a variety of issues. 

In addition to live work on staff vehicles, for the last three years the student have been building a 1999 Mazda Miata AKA Mazdarati into a full blown pro-am drift car. This project started when the Miata was given to me by my brother-in-law. I saw it as an opportunity to build a drift car with my students and to teach them how to get into racing in a legal way and to show them how to build a car on a budget. This build started out very basic with them doing a bunch of safety items on the car and in the first event out I ended up hitting a wall and smashing up the front end. This was honestly one of the best things to happen as it allowed the student to learn how to do a lot of custom fabrication and welding. Last year we worked on improving the power of the vehicle by adding a custom-built turbo kit for the car along with upgrading the fuel system and installing a fully programmable ECU. Students designed and built the piping, and installed the whole kit and got the car running. 

Some of them would come to the track where they’d help read the data logs and fine-tune the tune on the car. Then this year was the big one where the students tore the whole car apart, removing everything from the chassis. They prepped the car for the full roll cage, separated the engine harness from the chassis harness and then built a whole new chassis harness from scratch. They repainted the engine bay and learned how to do bodywork on the car in preparation for a new coat of paint. There was literally no nut or bolt that was untouched on the car and it turned out amazing. The students did a fantastic job. It was so good that at the Tuner Galleria of the Chicago World of Wheels it won best Mazda. It has proven itself on the track by being a rock-solid car that has never had a major issue, that’s a testament to the build quality the students put into it. This project has benefited the students in multiple ways. They are able to build a project car without having to spend their own money, learn how to correctly build a car for use on the track by following rule books to ensure the car fits into the class, and most of all, it gave them confidence and pride. The students were a bit scared to start this project for fear of failure or screwing up but as they put in more time and work they were able to overcome these fears and really progress their skills. They also take tremendous pride in the work they have done and it’s given them a new sense of confidence that will allow them to become better technicians in the end. 

I’ve also in the last year founded the Automotive Technology Instructor Network (ATIN) as a way to connect automotive instructors from around the nation. As automotive instructors especially in the high school setting we are typically the only teacher in our school or sometimes even district, so this group allows connections to be made so we can share ideas, labs or just ask questions to our peers that we typically wouldn’t have known. With the help of Texas shop owner Jeff Buckley, we have also gotten shops involved so they can connect with schools in their area to hopefully facilitate internships and to join the advisory boards of the local schools. You can find us on our Facebook group by searching for Automotive Technology Instructor Network.

Being named a B’laster Instructor of the Year finalist means a lot to me and my program. I’ve worked hard to create a great program that will set students up for success in the future and this helps prove that I’m on the right track. I’m incredibly grateful to the people who have nominated me, who see the hard work I’ve put into my program day in and day out.

You can follow along with Rolling Meadows High School’s drift car project on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @RMHSauto.

Bio: Joel Dufkis is the automotive technology instructor at Rolling Meadows High School. He has been teaching automotive technology for 10 years and worked in the automotive industry for 7 years prior to teaching. Dufkis has a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in Technology Education and a master’s degree from Loyola University in English Language Learning. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician who was worked in both the automotive repair and high-performance fields. In 2016-2017 he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Education Award from District 214.

Career School of the Year News

Former School Of The Year Instructor Roxanne Amiot Named 2019 SEMA-NACAT Award Winner

Roxanne Amiot, center, auto technology instructor at Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, received the 2019 SEMA-NACAT Education Award for her use of aftermarket technology in her classroom. Bullard-Havens was named the Tomorrow’s Technician School of the Year in 2018.

Roxanne Amiot, auto technology instructor at Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, received the 2019 SEMA-NACAT Education Award during the Education Partners Breakfast at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Bullard-Havens was named the Tomorrow’s Technician 2018 School of the Year, sponsored by WIX Filters and O’Reilly Auto Parts, under Amiot’s direction.

The award, which encourages education in the automotive aftermarket industry, recognizes instructors who teach automotive-related curricula and demonstrate positive and innovative use of aftermarket technology in their classrooms.

Amiot, who is also the head of the Automotive Technology Department at Bullard-Havens Technical High School, was selected from a very competitive field that included applicants from the U.S. and Canada.

“We are pleased to present Amiot with an award that recognizes the daily impact made in the classroom and her true passion for automotive,” said Zane Clark, SEMA senior director of education. “Her dedication to students is essential to fostering an exciting future for our aftermarket industry.”

Amiot, who worked in the automotive industry before teaching in 1988, is an alumni of the award-winning program that she now oversees. The Bullard-Havens Technical High School automotive program has been recognized for its live production repair garage, where aftermarket parts are used in community projects throughout the year. Students are prepared for careers in the automotive industry through job shadowing, community work-based opportunities, as well as interview days that include automotive aftermarket businesses such as NAPA, Fed Mogul, O’Reillys and Pep boys.

“Being recognized nationally by SEMA and NACAT brings positive attention and credibility to the work we do in our automotive technology repair program,” said Amiot. “With that comes support from the industry and the state to keep our programs open and financially funded so that we can continue to do what we do best, build skilled workers for our automotive industry.”  

Amiot is an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Master Certified Technician with L1 and G1 certifications. Her automotive technology is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and Automotive Youth Educational Systems.

As part of the award, Amiot will also receive a complimentary registration to NACAT and $500 towards travel to attend the 2020 NACAT Conference and Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio.  

In addition to partnering with NACAT to recognize educators who support the automotive education of students, SEMA’s Educational Program includes Scholarship & Loan Forgiveness, SEMA Show Student Programs and an annual High School Vehicle Build Program.

To learn more about the SEMA-NACAT Award or SEMA’s Educational Programs, visit