Techs Rock Candidate Profiles - Automotive & Motorsports

Techs Rock Candidate Profiles – Automotive & Motorsports

The awards program recognizes both students' and pros' commitment to the profession.

TechForce Foundation’s Techs Rock Awards is an awards program recognizing both technical students’ and professional technicians’ commitment to the profession. Honorees serve as true role models, inspiring the next generation and fueling the pipeline of future technicians.

Today we present profiles of the Future Technician and Working Technician finalists in the Automotive and Motorsports category.

The public is invited to meet the Finalists and vote for the Future Tech and Working Tech Grand Prize Winners now until February 28th at TechForce.org/TechsRock.

FUTURE TECHNICIAN

Misael Rodriguez, Ben Davis High School, Area 31 Career Center, Andy Mohr Automotive Service, Indianapolis, IN

Who is Misael?

Misael Rodriguez is a student at Ben Davis High School. He is studying Automotive Technology at Area 31 Career Center and is an ambassador for Andy Mohr Automotive Service in Indianapolis.

Misael is a first-generation Mexican-American student with a 4.0 GPA and plans to run for SkillsUSA State Officer in Indiana in 2024. He was featured on Snap-on’s Makers and Fixers.

In his words, “I’m a dedicated, respectful and responsible person who seeks excellent success in my academics and career. I want to make my parents proud and I also want to give back to my community and get more involved.”

Why he was nominated:

Misael nominated himself for the Techs Rock Awards a few weeks after being introduced to TechForce Foundation.

He said, “…around December, I learned about TechForce and their opportunities for young techs. I wanted to be nominated to open new doors [and] share my story with you guys.”

Misael’s goals:

A milestone I want to accomplish this year is winning state for SkillsUSA Indiana for community service. For our project, my team will perform oil changes. Our labor will be free, and the oil will be free thanks to the sponsor of my automotive class at Ben Davis (High School). The only thing our client will have to purchase will be an oil filter. We will also inspect lugnuts, air pressure, and tire wear to inform them of the life of their tires.

I’ll also compete for SkillsUSA Auto Maintenance Light and Repair (this year) with my group of 4 to hopefully win Regionals. I’m the only first-year student in my group and my knowledge will be enhanced thanks to my team because this will be their second year competing. I’ll also give back the favor for next year’s first years who want to compete for MLR with me for SkillsUSA 2025.

I’ve applied to run for State Officer for SkillsUSA Indiana. I want to encourage more young technicians to seek opportunities to help their community and be leaders in their category.

[I had] my first ever interview at Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram Andy Mohr. It went excellent… and I want to attend their CAP program to achieve a degree.

Other Accomplishments

My (first) accomplishment/ award this year was being selected to be an ambassador for Andy Mohr Automotive Service for Area 31 Career Center. I helped talk to young students in 7th through 10th grade to inform them of the opportunities this program offers and the high demand for technicians with strong work ethics.

My academic awards I’ve received [include] a Presidential Academic Award, Academic Honors, NJHS [National Junior Honor Society] and also NSLS [The National Society of Leadership and Success]. I’m on track to receive my Core 40, Academic Honor Diploma and Technical Honors Diploma. I have a weighted GPA of 4.0, and also am a member of Ivy Tech Upward Bound.

Making a Positive Impact

A passion for me is to be a leader in my class to help one another and influence my peers to become successful.

[I was] elected to be an ambassador for my automotive class to help future students who want to become a technician in the automotive field or who have questions. Having the title ambassador for my auto class comes with big responsibilities.

I’ve helped my peers from day one. Helping the ones who were confused and also lost when lessons were taught; distributing hands-on work so everyone had an opportunity to use a tool or remove a piece; helping my class with repair orders, teaching the ones who needed help.

A positive activity I do for my Church is being part of their choir for Sundays and Thursdays. I’ve helped around my community, simple as a free oil change and helping my elderly neighbor jack his car to remove a wheel off his truck.

[I also make a] positive impact by sharing my story. I want to be an example for future male and female technicians that anything is possible with hard work, dedication and leadership.

Be leaders in your passion and look for opportunities and help your community.

Misael’s other interests

Some outside interests are mountain biking with my family. I love recording my trails on my Instagram, and I record my service on my parents’ vehicle, such as replacing their brake pads and teaching some of my viewers [things] such as oil changes and maintaining your car.

[In] 2023, I repaired my parents’ car’s front bumper and fender because of a car crash. I took pictures of every progress and I hope to soon have a channel like ChrisFix teaching people about cars.

I’ve also been involved in ACE mentorship to learn a little of everything. ACE mentorship helps future students who are interested in Architecture, Construction and Engineering.

WORKING TECHNICIAN

Dustin Thomas, CarMax, San Antonio, TX

Who is Dustin?

Dustin Thomas is a professional automotive technician and has been with CarMax for more than six years.

As he describes it, Dustin got his start “shortly after graduating high school. Friends of mine had gotten into tuner cars, and after seeing how unique and cool the automotive world could be I was hooked. I moved to San Antonio when I was 19 and made the decision to try and turn this new hobby into a career. I started attending St. Philip’s College to pursue my Associate’s Degree in Automotive Technology, which I completed in 2015.”

Dustin’s journey continued, eventually landing him at CarMax. “After obtaining my degree, I was offered a job at a small mom-and-pop repair shop where I had interned. I worked there for around two years, growing my knowledge and beginning my ASE journey. I received two ASEs during my time there, at which point I decided to continue my growth and moved over to working for CarMax. I have since been with my company for 6.5 years, pushing myself to obtain all A1-A8 ASE certifications, as well as recently acquiring my ASE L1 advanced certification, allowing me to be promoted to our highest level of technician positions.”

Why he was nominated:

Dustin’s supervisor nominated him for the Techs Rock Awards. He describes Dustin as “an all-around great technician.”

“Dustin is a go-getter that is always willing to help his peers anyway he can. Dustin continues to grow his automotive knowledge and within one year has gotten three different ASEs including his L1. He is a motivated leader within his work group and goes above and beyond to ensure the daily goals are met.”

Major Accomplishments:

Dustin has earned all 8 ASE certifications, including his L1. He earned three of these certifications in 2023 alone.

While in school, Dustin received a scholarship from Matco Tools. During his time with CarMax, he has consistently been a top tech, achieving the company’s highest tiers of President’s Club rankings.

Making a Positive Impact:

Dustin strives to be an example to his peers of possible career achievements within the automotive industry.

Outside of work, Dustin has volunteered on numerous occasions to help with various non-tech-related volunteer opportunities. His volunteerism includes traveling 2+ hours from home through CarMax’s partnership with KABOOM! to help build a new playground set for children impacted by a recent school shooting.

While in school, Dustin was involved in a performance tuning program and volunteered as a representative of the Auto Tech department for high school auto tech students who were interested in the program.

In his supervisor’s words, “Dustin helps plan and organize the ongoing training provided by CarMax in relation to electric cars. He continues to grow his knowledge in this area, as he sees this is the future. Overall, Dustin is a Rockstar and deserves this award for all of the hard work he has put in over the last year to meet all of his goals!”

Visit the Techs Rock Awards voting webpage to help select the winners.https://techforce.org/techsrock

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