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Report Card: SC Student Is Performance-Driven

by Ed Sunkin

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When he applied to the BMW Performance Center for AYES internship, high school automotive student Kale Fortenberry, 18, was told by his schools staff that it was next to impossible to get in. However, he relentlessly pursued his dream because he knew that he wanted to be there the BMW Performance Center for the rest of his life.

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By staying true to his dream, Kale, succeeded earlier this year when he was given the chance to serve as an intern at the performance center. Kale, who and graduated from R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center, Moore, SC, in June, participated in classroom theory training in the morning and served his BMW internship afternoons at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC, adjacent to the BMW Assembly Plant.

And, now Kale, who was named the 2007 AYES-JFS/BMW Scholarship Award Winner, will be able to further his education and his career goal of being a BMW technician.

In September, Kale will begin a two-year automotive technology training program at Spartanburg Community College in Spartanburg, SC.

Kale was selected by his supervisor Dan Doot, at the BMW Performance Center, to continue his tenure as a contract employee, while continuing his education at Spartanburg Community College. Kale said he plans to pursue his certification in automotive technology and eventually, plans to be in charge of maintenance for the performance centers driving school vehicles.

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Doot said the young apprentice, who currently holds ASE certifications in Brakes, Basic Engine, Electrical and Engine Performance, displays maturity and motivation beyond his years.

His personality and character are a perfect fit for the workshop environment, said Doot. He can joke around with the seasoned ASE Master Technicians, but always knows where to draw the line. When all is said and done, he respects and admires the master techs for their knowledge and experience, and they respect his composure and patience.

Setting Goals
Kale said he interviewed with the BMW Performance Center after being considered, and being interviewed, by other OEM automotive programs. However, deep down, he said, he knew that he wanted to work for BMW.

Kale said his interest in vehicles grew from his childhood. While growing up, he watched his father a truck mechanic for 30 years with Penske Truck Leasing diagnose and repair all types of trucks and cars. I used to hang out at my dads home garage and watch him repair cars since I was very young, he said. I guess Ive always liked to be around cars.

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As a kid, Kale worked on and played with gasoline powered go-karts and dirt bikes. He explained that working on them kept him focused and out of trouble. Ive always enjoyed doing the hands-on work, he said.

Although inspired by his father, Kale was not encouraged to follow in his footsteps as an automotive technician. In fact, his father wanted Kale to attend college and pursue another field of study. But, automotive mechanics was in his blood.

Kales mother, who works in an office environment, said her son has, over the years, visited her at work and she staunchly agrees that the office environment is not for him. He likes troubleshooting, diagnosing and finding solutions to complex mechanical problems, she said. He likes being challenged, that even when he is not at school or his internship, he is usually at home working on some type of automotive application, either as a hobby or as a sideline business.

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Kale said that he likes restoring cars to their original condition, which gives him a sense of pride, especially when driving the restored vehicle. He explained that he gets good feelings about fixing something that was once broke.

Kale even indicated that he has performed extra work at home in his back yard by installing custom car sound systems in premium cars, and that is what motivated him to become particularly interested in high-quality motor cars, particularly, BMWs.

Kale said he considers himself a Gear Head and participates in car shows and is very involved with his own cars. His first car was one he inherited from his sister a hand-me-down Volkswagen Cabriolet.

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Later, he began a restoration project on his 1985 BMW 735i (E23) that he bought for $300. It was stored for many years under a shed and I restored it to running condition, Kale explained. I have plans to paint and restore the interior next.

He also is the owner of a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro with 170,000 original miles, powered by a recently rebuilt and reforged engine.

Kale said he likes working as an intern at the BMW Performance Center and considers it a challenge because he is working on new cars and, more specifically, track cars which he says are operated in near perfect condition and demand quality service and maintenance.

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Doot said he, too, is pleased with Kales career-driven decision.

We are fortunate that Kale enjoys working at the Performance Center, I just hope he spends his entire career with BMW, Doot said.

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