Underhood: Understanding Audi’s Valve Lift System
Ethan is credited for involvement in his community and his drive to learn. Student of the Month is sponsored by Continental.
Ethan Fortner is a senior student at the Walker County Center of Technology in Jasper, Alabama. While wrapping up his senior year of high school this year, Ethan is working at a local Honda dealership while also completing AP classes as well as working online for his Automotive Technology class. Ethan is described as a knowledge seeker who works hard to improve his skill set, day by day. Welcome to Ethan Fortner!
Ethan, what first inspired you to take automotive classes?
“Ever since I was as young as I can remember, I was always working on cars with my family and my family races. So, from a very young age, I was always involved with cars and it just drove my passion. What inspired me is that my dad is actually a truck driver. I’ve always liked machinery and I was always wanting to learn something new. I helped my dad numerous times with his trucks. I’ve even rebuilt one of his trucks with him because I was wanting to learn more. I’ve always liked cars and Mr. Craig, he was a really nice teacher whenever I did my 8th grade tour and then whenever 9th grade came, we redid those tours and when I just saw him again, I knew for a fact that this is going to be something that I wanted to do.”
Do you have a favorite project or repair that you’ve worked on at school?
“Something we are working on right now is a LS Cam shaft on a Chevy Tahoe, and that is something that Mr. Craig has tasked me and a couple of other students with. So far, we’re just waiting on the parts. So, I already got the cams out and the heads off now all the way to the engine block with the pistons and the crank and that’s currently at the school something that we’re doing. I really enjoy it. I enjoy doing stuff on my own, learning new things, and once I’m able to do it a few times I instantly remember that knowledge, that’s a major part of why I was able to build all my dad’s engines for his trucks.”
Tell us about your Audi rebuild. How did that all begin?
“It was the March of not last year, but before that, whenever Covid started hitting and the summer previous to that, My dad was already trying to give me a car, but we ran into financial problems, so we weren’t able to. My dad wanted to find me a nice car and during the search we both found the same car and sent the same link to each other, which is funny to me. Whenever we first got to the car, it was covered in pollen, so it didn’t really look that great. And when we first got it, it was undrivable as the clutch itself would not work. That’s a problem I have right now again, it’s a thing that it does, but it’s completely different. It’s the first standard shift that I’ve been able to own and drive around. And you don’t really see much of them here. That’s the thing that a lot of people like to say is that whenever you spot my car, you just know it’s me, because I’m the only one that’s driving it, and you just don’t see any other one out here.”
What has it been like getting a taste of the workforce while still in your senior year? How have you been able to navigate at all?
“It’s a little bit easier on me this senior year because at Honda Jasper, they close at 6:00 pm. So as soon as I leave here at trade school, which is about 1:30 pm, I get over there at about 1:40 pm, and I’m able to change clothes and work. I would say it’s been an experience. It was completely different than what I imagined. It wasn’t that hard to adjust to it. The maturity level in terms of just goofing around, it’s more of just like a big old family.“
Ethan, before you go, What are your plans for the future?
“I know here soon, I wanted to start another project where I’d build another car, which is a Subaru WRX wagon. I also plan on building myself another PC, a bit better than the one I have. I would say about a year ago, I built my first PC, which I still have today. I just want to upgrade it since I have more money and I’m able to upgrade it and new parts are coming out. I would actually like to have a set up where I can also make videos and edit like your editing team does as well.”
Ethan’s instructor, Michael Craig says, “I chose Ethan Fortner for this opportunity to showcase the young men and women of our classes have a future in automotive prepare or anything that they choose to do. But him in particular, he wants me to be a better teacher. He asks questions. He wants to know how things work. He doesn’t come in with a blank stare. And if you’ve been in the teaching situation, you see a lot of that, and he comes in and ask questions. He’s involved in his community. And as well as speaking with you, he represents himself very well without any coaching.“