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Monday, 19 August 2019 19:40

Nurturing Next-Generation Techs for the Transportation Industry

Written by Arlena Sawyers, Auto Remarketing
Tina Smith working on her 1967 Pontiac GTO. Tina Smith working on her 1967 Pontiac GTO. Tina Smith


When it comes to explaining the rewards of becoming an auto service or other transportation industry technician to the parents of children in middle- and high-school, Tina Smith and TechForce Foundation have this message:


“There are different roads to success, and even though your child doesn’t want to go to a four-year college, it doesn’t mean they’re not ‘good enough’ because they choose to go into a technical career,” said Smith, who ought to know.


Her journey to becoming director of national partnerships at TechForce Foundation started when she was “kinda kicked out” out of a traditional high school and landed in a vocational high school.


TechForce Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Its mission is to reposition the image of the transportation industry technician from “grease monkey” to skilled professional and highlight their earning potential.


Self-Described ‘Car-Nut’


A self-described “car nut,” Smith loves hot rods and muscle cars. Her first car was a silver and green 1968 Chevy Chevelle Malibu, equipped with a Cherry Bomb exhaust. The car’s two-speed, Powerglide transmission contributed to the exhaust “rumble” when shifted into low gear, she said.


As a child, Smith regularly took things apart — the family toaster, her bicycle, a radio — and put them back together and enjoyed helping her father work on the family boat.


“I’d hand him tools, and I liked sticking my fingers in the grease bucket,” she said.


But school was a different story.


The traditional classroom setting that required her to “sit up straight, pay attention, be quiet, didn’t fly for me,” she recalled. “I couldn’t sit still; I was disruptive.”


So at age 15, “for lack of a better term, I kinda got kicked out of that high school,” she said, with a chuckle. “The high school counselor suggested I go to vocational school.”


Auto Mechanics, a Natural Fit


But when she got into the auto mechanics program, “it was a natural fit,” she said.


She excelled and after graduating, continued her education at Sinclair Community College.

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