This column originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Tomorrow’s Technician.
When I first joined the automotive repair industry, it was drilled into my head from day one that automotive mechanics are now called automotive technicians.
I have to agree that the term “technician” is a good fit, especially with the new image the auto repair industry is looking to embrace. The industry is trying to clean up the misconception of the “grease monkey” automotive repair professional and replace it with an image of a more technical and professional role. But, I think it’s important we don’t forget the roots of the technician – roots that stemmed from the mechanic.
This summer I had the opportunity to visit our 2009 School of the Year winner, Ohio Technical College (OTC) in Cleveland.
OTC’s state-of-the-art facilities teach students about everything from the old-school vehicles and engines of yesterday to today’s highly advanced systems. The school makes sure students can not only fix new vehicles, but also have a comprehensive knowledge of the more traditional, mechanical vehicles and equipment and how to fix them and use them in the shop.
Mike Peth, vice president of education at OTC, stressed that the school makes sure the students are learning in both the classroom and shop – learning both theory and hands on work. In his explanation Peth said something to me that really stuck with me: “We always talk about the technician, but we can’t forget about the mechanic.”
Peth explained to me how students must be both a mechanic and a technician. In today’s repair world it’s imperative to know the mechanical, hands-on side of the job (the mechanic) and the technical and knowledge-based side (the technician).
And while to many of us the technician title combines these two areas, the massive advances in car systems today can sometimes make us forget that the mechanical, “dirty jobs” approach is still a very real part of being a technician, and that’s OK.
Embrace that being a technician is still very much a mechanical job. There’s no shame in using some elbow grease and having an oil-stained shirt and possessing the advanced knowledge of electrical work and computer diagnostics. You’ve got the best of both worlds as a technician.
Contact Carley at [email protected]
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