TechForce Announces Winners of Techs Rock Awards

TechForce Announces Winners of Techs Rock Awards

Misael Rodriguez and Dustin Thomas are the grand-prize winners.

TechForce Foundation has announced Misael Rodriguez of Ben Davis High School and Dustin Thomas of CarMax as grand-prize winners in the sixth-annual Techs Rock Awards, recognizing their commitment to the profession.

The Future Tech and Working Tech winners were honored Thursday in a ceremony hosted at Mecum Glendale 2024 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

TechForce Foundation’s Techs Rock Awards is the premier awards program honoring student and professional technicians’ dedication to their craft and to motivating others to pursue technical education and careers.

An expert panel of celebrity judges reviewed hundreds of nominations to select 10 finalists representing categories including Automotive & Motorsports; Aviation, Motorcycle & Marine; Collision, Restoration & Welding; Diesel; and Emerging Technologies.

Misael Rodriguez and Dustin Thomas were selected by popular vote to receive the grand prize, with more than 10,000 votes cast.

The pressing national demand for top-tier technicians –nearly three job openings for every tech school graduate – drives the Techs Rock Awards. Honorees serve as true role models, inspiring the next generation and fueling the pipeline of future technicians.

“We are thrilled to be able to recognize Misael Rodriguez and Dustin Thomas in person and with the nation,” said Jennifer Maher, CEO of TechForce Foundation. “Their commitment to the technician profession inspires others, and their success is a testament to the opportunities afforded by professional technician careers. Join TechForce in congratulating all of the Techs Rock Awards honorees who keep America moving and help our communities thrive.”

Future Tech grand-prize winner Misael Rodriguez is an 11th-grade automotive technology student at Ben Davis High School and Area 31 Career Center in Indianapolis.

“I felt the calling to be a technician at age 13 when my uncle and I replaced the starter solenoid on my dad’s truck,” he said. “I will always remember the feeling I got when the truck started because we fixed it.”

As a first-generation Mexican-American, Rodriguez has had to find his own connections to the industry. SkillsUSA has presented him with these opportunities, and Rodriguez is all in. 

“I’ll compete for SkillsUSA Auto Maintenance Light and Repair this year with my group of four,”Rodriguez explained. “I’m the only first-year student in my group, and we hope to win Regionals.”

He also is in the running for SkillsUSA Indiana State Officer and is on a team competing for the organization’s community service award by providing no-cost auto services.

Rodriguez reflected on winning the Future Tech Grand Prize,

“Winning the grand prize is a milestone achieved with the help of friends, family, community and God,” he said. “This award will help me with tools and motivate me to continue what I love. I want this opportunity to motivate more students and technicians not to give up and see that anything can be achieved. No matter what race, age, or gender you are, anything is possible with commitment and dedication. My goal is to become a leader, help others and help my community and peers grow and prosper.”

Working Tech grand-prize winner Dustin Thomas is an automotive technician with CarMax in San Antonio.

“After seeing from friends how unique and cool the automotive world could be, I was hooked,” Thomas said. “I worked at a small shop for two years after completing my associate in automotive technology in 2015, and later continued my growth by accepting a position with CarMax.”

Thomas has established himself as a leader in his shop and his community.

“I have attained all A1-A8 and L1 ASE advanced certifications, allowing me to be promoted to CarMax’s highest level of technician positions,” he explained.  

Thomas has worked with high school auto tech students and volunteered to support youth as far as two and a half hours from his home. 

“I’m just amazed and so happy for this opportunity I’ve been given,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, friends, and incredible work family at CarMax. CarMax has allowed me tremendous growth in the past 6.5 years, and I’m grateful to be recognized and supported by my leadership. I’d like to thank TechForce for helping shed light on our industry and promote further growth for our future techs. I feel incredibly lucky to have been chosen. I hope my story can inspire our up-and-coming generations to work hard and pursue an education and career in the technical industry.”

As grand-prize winners, Misael and Dustin each received a trip to Glendale, Arizona, to enjoy Mecum Glendale 2024 and meet and be honored by industry leaders at TechForce’s National Partner Summit.

The grand-prize winners also will receive a NAPA Carlyle toolbox stocked with Carlyle tools valued at $8,000 each.

Thanks to TechForce partner Hertz, the grand-prize winners also will receive a week-long rental of a cutting-edge electric vehicle and experience the thrill of eco-friendly, high-performance driving in style. 

Each of the eight runners-up will receive a $500 AutoZone gift card and a GEARWRENCH modular tool set valued up to $1,000.

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