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Three teenagers, one RV and two weeks on the road talking with some of the country's leading automotive and diesel technicians: this is the adventure captured in “Changing Gears,” a documentary produced by Roadtrip Nation.
The hour-long documentary follows high school students Alexandra Burton and Michael Arney, and NASCAR Technical Institute student Dylan Babel, on a journey that took them to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, and Phoenix.
The trio was able to interview some of their biggest heroes and learn more about the opportunities available in the auto and diesel technician fields.
The program is currently available online and has been airing on PBS stations throughout the country.
Roadtrip Nation was founded in 2004, and the program chronicles young people in search of self-discovery. For “Changing Gears,” all three participants knew they loved cars. They just weren't aware of the vast possibilities they could encounter in careers pursuing their passions.
Along the way, Alex, Michael and Dylan interviewed more than 15 auto and diesel professionals who have turned their adoration for cars, trucks and the intricate work that goes into them into amazing careers. Some of the people featured in the documentary include:
Other interview subjects included Porsche collector Magnus Walker, World Famous 4x4 founder and CEO Henrik Hairapetian, and SEMA garage senior coordinator Stephanie Martinez.
During each interview, the trio asked each subject what inspired their devotion to vehicles, why the industry is worth getting into, and what advice they have for young people.
While each person has a unique experience and history with automotive and diesel vehicles, a common thread ran through their interviews: they love the industry and are constantly taking in new knowledge.
As teenagers who expressed uncertainties about their futures and career paths at the beginning of the documentary, the wisdom passed down from each expert was encouraging throughout.
“The world would stop without mechanics and people with technical skills,” Rod Fuller, vice president of operations at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas, tells the interviewers in the documentary. Fuller, who had an enthusiasm for racing from an early age and went on to race himself, now gets to work on his fondness for racing every day.
At Exotics Racing, patrons can get behind the wheel of a high-speed vehicle themselves and tear around a racetrack.
The trio also talked with diesel expert technicians for Ryder, a fleet management and supply chain management company. Ryder diesel mechanic Scout Gillick and technician II Heather Opp, both female pros, encouraged aspiring female technicians to pursue their dreams.
Opp admitted she was too intimidated to work on cars before she began her career, but now she's thrilled to discover something different on the job every day.
“You never stop learning in this industry,” Opp says in the documentary. “There’s always something new, something evolving, some new technique coming out.”
Michael, one of the roadtrippers, loves fixing cars in his garage in Oregon. The high school senior said he had no idea how many options were available to make his hobby a career until embarking on the trip.
“There are multiple ins to the industry,” Michael says in the documentary. From building lowrider vehicles, to managing an adult playground full of digging equipment, to creating auto parts with the help of 3D printing, viewers of the “Changing Gears” documentary get an inside glimpse into the diverse and exciting world of working with vehicles.
By the end of the documentary, Alex, Michael and Dylan express gratitude for the new connections and an eagerness to learn more. You can watch the documentary to see their stories at www.changinggearsfilm.com.
If you're inspired by the expedition the participants take, enrolling at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) can help you prepare for a career as a technician.
Just like Dylan, a student at UTI's NASCAR Technical Institute, you’ll get hands-on training with state-of-the-industry equipment and vehicles.
And, every day you'll be able to talk with instructors who are experienced professionals. More importantly, they care about helping you get the most of your education.
UTI has programs for those interested in automotive, diesel, NASCAR, motorcycle, marine, CNC machining, welding, and collision repair.
It only takes a few minutes to learn about technician training opportunities.
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, and to review the applicable Gainful Employment disclosure, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
6) UTI graduates' achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
10) Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI’s Custom Training Group on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.