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Rising Young Technicians

For these top guns the future is looking bright!

South Florida’s Jakob J. Turano and Chris Miller are the new face of today’s crop of up-and-coming young automotive technicians:  technically savvy, computer literate, and job-ready…thanks to pro-active instructors, forward-thinking automotive programs, and industry/education programs that emphasize mentoring and hands-on apprenticeships.

Mark Armbrust, Automotive Instructor at Atlantic Technical College (ATC) and Technical High School in Coconut Creek, FL, is proud of all of his students and points to Jakob Turano and Chris Miller in particular as two rising stars. Both have graduated from Atlantic’s two-year Automotive Service Technology—ASE Education Foundation Student Career Development Program and are completing offsite corporate/manufacturer training programs. One has started working at his sponsoring Chevrolet dealership full-time and the other expects to begin “later this year at a Lexus dealership,” according to Armbrust.

Turano and Miller recently took the time to share information about themselves and answer some questions from ASE.

Turano recalls, “I first became interested in auto repair when I was around 14 years old when my dad taught me how to drive a stick shift,” while Miller adds he “grew up surrounded by different things related to cars such as movies and car documentaries like ‘Top Gear.’ Fixing cars just came as a natural passion for me.”

Both agree that instructor Mark Armbrust was a driving force in turning their interest in cars into a profession. “Mr. Armbrust informed me of the career possibilities, and I thought it would be a great idea to turn my hobby into a career,” says Miller. Turano cites Armbrust as a “major inspiration to pick the automotive industry as a career” and adds that “Mr. Armbrust was always there to open opportunities for me to build on my own character and to become self-sustaining with auto repair.”

Both young techs note how ATC’s program combined online assignments, textbook work, and “large portions” of hands-on work. “Connecting the coursework to actual hands-on experiences was very helpful,” notes Miller. They also point to participation in various prestigious competitions including Skills USA and the NY Auto Dealers’ sponsored National Automotive Technology Competition.

Another facet of ATC’s program is its emphasis on getting students ready for ASE testing, the industry standard, and both students threw themselves into the effort with gusto. Turano’s competitive spirit motivated him to take and pass 10 ASE tests including the Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Test (L1), becoming the first student to reach this milestone. Miller was equally motivated but his focus was more down-to-earth:  he wants to qualify for GM World Class Technician status, so passing the appropriate ASE exams is a prerequisite, and he has done so, passing the required tests for ASE Master Technician status.

These students’ enthusiasm and dedication are impossible to ignore and their excitement about their futures is palpable. But they are mature beyond their years, musing about the bigger things such as the traits any technician needs in order to thrive. 

“The most important things any technician should have are common sense, motivation, and integrity…The consequences of mistakes are serious, so you have to make sure you are paying attention and applying your knowledge on every repair. A good tech is motivated to get the job done right the first time, for the benefit of himself, and the customer. Finally, integrity is a requirement for all techs. It’s vital for techs to do the right thing and be honest,” notes Turano. 

Miller, ever practical, observes, “The ideal technician should be able to handle pressure because time is money in the automotive industry. The ideal technician is also a person with excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, and has a strong willingness to learn. I also believe that a technician needs to have the ability to collaborate with others and accept change.”

Both young guns were effusive in the praise of their instructors at all levels of their journey:  high school, technical college, and manufacturer programs: GM-ASEP and Toyota T-TEN. And no doubt, these promising students picked up important life-lessons beyond technical know-how from their dedicated teachers along the way.

An Instructor’s Elevator Speech to Parents of Students Considering Automotive Careers
“I simply share my story with them. I come from a family of college educated people that were expecting me to choose a traditional college education. Working on cars was a tough thing for my mom to swallow. I attended GM-ASEP and graduated top of my class and became a team leader at the largest Chevy dealer in the USA within five years. My income allowed me to move out of their house when I turned 21 and the rest is history. I then share with them what 50 new car dealers within 50 miles of each other means for their children wishing to enter our industry. The demand for quality technicians has never been higher and the service departments are seeing between 100-300 cars a day.”

— Mark Armbrust, Instructor
Atlantic Technical College & Technical High School
Coconut Creek, FL.