Jamie Smith, a student in OSU Institute of Technology’s Pro-Tech program, was recently recognized with a Technicians of Tomorrow scholarship from the Automotive Service Association-Midwest chapter.
“I wouldn’t have thought I would have won it,” Smith said of the national scholarship competition. “My instructors pulled me into the office and told me I had gotten the scholarship. They actually told me I was in trouble at first.”
And while having the $1,000 scholarship is helpful, he said attending ASA’s VISION Hi-Tech Training and Expo was truly priceless.
“The money for the scholarship is great, but getting to go to VISION and go through the training is invaluable. I attended four or five high level training sessions— that’s invaluable information right there. They got the best of the best to come and teach,” Smith said.
Growing up, he was always interested in cars and worked on them with his dad, even working in an auto parts store for four years before enrolling at OSUIT.
“I saw the value of the Pro-Tech program. Instead of learning just one manufacturer’s vehicles, you’re being trained to work on everything,” he said. “I’ve loved it—the friendships we’ve made; plus, I come out as a technician with a two-year degree.”
Smith will graduate from the Pro-Tech program in August and begin working at Weldon’s Auto Center in his hometown of Ada.
This was the second year a Pro-Tech student won the scholarship and attended the annual VISION conference held in Overland Park, Kansas.
“It shows Pro-Tech is making connections with big organizations like ASA-Midwest. It’s reassuring that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Pro-Tech instructor Ryan Lasarsky. “When the students go, they represent our school and bring notoriety to OSUIT.”
More than 3,500 automotive service professionals from across North America attend the conference for technical and hands-on training as well as visit the 60,000 square foot exhibit hall to learn about the latest equipment and technology.
Lasarsky said he and fellow Pro-Tech instructor Eric Reeves attend the VISION conference because it offers high quality continuing education.
“We try to take different courses so we learn the most we can. We’ve made changes to courses after talking about what we’ve learned there,” he said. “We don’t have an automobile manufacturer feeding us information and training. We talk with people from Connecticut, Iowa, California—people we wouldn’t normally get on our advisory board—to hear what the latest trends are across the country.”
For Smith, going to VISION was a chance to network and talk with people in the industry that he’s about to build his career around.
“These people are highly trained in the industry. You get to talk with shop owners and master technicians from around the world. To get to talk with these guys; that’s an amazing opportunity,” he said.
In fact, he’s already convinced his new boss at Weldon’s Auto Center to allow his technicians to attend the VISION conference next year.
“There’s so much knowledge out there and so many makes and models,” Smith said. “It’s a big motivational boost. It shows we’re part of something bigger than just changing parts all day. There’s a community out there that’s looking out for my future.”