Instructors don’t see a student like Tyler Hardin every year. Or even every other year. In fact, in educational circles, Tyler Hardin is referred to as a “five-year kid.”
“Tyler is the student every instructor dreams that he had a class full of,” said Kelly Ingold, Automotive Collision Repair Technology faculty member. “I’ve been an instructor for 25 years, and it seems like we only get a student like Tyler about every five years. I can still name every one of them I’ve taught.”
A standout freshman like Hardin is bound to draw the attention of national grant-giving agencies, and that’s exactly what happened this spring. Hardin received three separate awards from the I-CAR Education Foundation, including the $1,000 Collision Repair Education Foundation’s Lon Baudoux Legacy Scholarship for education expenses, the 2013 Sherwin Williams Tool Grant and the 2013 Chicago Pneumatic Tool Grant.
All of these accomplishments are pretty remarkable for the student from Heavener, a small town in eastern Oklahoma, who became interested in body work during high school, worked at a shop during summer breaks and experimented by customizing on his own pickup.
Tyler soon knew he wanted further training so he could earn a good living doing something he enjoyed.
“My former boss in Poteau, Johnny Baggs, owned his own shop and had attended OSUIT,” explained Hardin. “He talked very highly of the program offered here, and I heard nothing but good comments about it being the leading school for the collision repair in the state.”
Once Hardin arrived on campus, he wasted little time making a big impression on his instructors Geoff Constantine, John Pemberton and Ingold.
“Tyler had little formal training in auto collision before coming to school, but the way he catches on is exceptional,” Ingold said. “It’s very obvious that he has come from a hard working family with good values and ethics.”
The tool grant awards included a ½" impact wrench, air hammer, die grinder, reversible air drill, air sander and HVLP primer pack. Hardin has immediate plans on how best to utilize these gifts for his future.
“With these tools, I’ll be able to excel further in my OSUIT classes,” Hardin said. “I was also recently hired at one of the largest repair shops in Tulsa, Bill Knight Ford Collision Center. I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to work in such an advanced shop. I look forward to the many years these tools will help me make a living in this rapidly growing industry.”
And, if his instructors have anything to do with it, he will soon go from being a “five-year kid” to a highly successful auto technician.
“If I were to retire from teaching and take a job as a body shop manager in eastern Oklahoma, Tyler would definitely be someone I would hire,” Ingold said. “He’s everything owners look for in an entry-level technician. Within six years, I look for him to be making six figures as a collision technician. His professionalism and ability to talk with people is just icing on the cake.”