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Picture the thrill of seeing a NASCAR race in person, cars flying down the speedway and the buzz of the crowd cheering on their favorite cars to win.
Imagine having a direct hand – literally – in creating one of the most important components propelling a NASCAR vehicle to victory: the engine. For Dustin Desautell, an engine builder at Roush Yates Engines, that's a reality he has experienced more than once, just this year.
Dustin built winning engines for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta and the TicketGuardian 500 in Phoenix this year, both in vehicles driven by NASCAR pro Kevin Harvick.
For someone who grew up with a passion for racing, Dustin is living out the dream of many NASCAR and automotive enthusiasts, as one of the youngest engine builders on the Roush Yates Engines team.
“It's great knowing that something you get to do day in and day out is something you can watch on the tracks performing,” says Dustin. “Especially when you win, it's even greater.”
Dustin started his career journey to an engine assembler at Roush Yates Engines in September 2003, just weeks after graduating from the Automotive Technology program at NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI), a division of Universal Technical Institute (UTI).
Both NTI and Roush Yates Engines are located in Mooresville, North Carolina, a hub for those who love some of the fastest vehicles in the world.
Roush Yates Engines is an industry partner of UTI, providing guidance and support for curriculum at NTI. The company has also hired more than 70 tech school graduates from UTI and currently has 30 graduates working for it, including Dustin. Read on for his inspiring success story.
Dustin is from Winchester, New Hampshire, where he says friends and family would gather to watch or participate in races on quarter-mile dirt and asphalt tracks in the area. Since he was a teenager, he was interested in racing and would work on cars that participated in local races.
In high school, Dustin noticed an article in a newspaper about a vocational school for NASCAR training: NTI. Interested, he called the campus and learned about the curriculum.
He says if it wasn't for the first conversation he had with the UTI representative being so positive, he might not have come to NTI.
“It sounded like something interesting to do for a career,” Dustin says. “I didn't realize that all this racing was right around this area, which was in line with everything they offered at the school.”
Dustin was a member of one of the first classes at NTI. While he entered with the intent to focus on automotive body work, the curriculum's well-roundedness prepared him to move into engines after graduation.
“NTI was definitely a good basis to get into the world,” Dustin says. “It gives you pretty much everything you need to stand out. Being able to work on cars with the latest technology and electronics definitely teaches you so you're not just guessing. The general layout of everything gives you a jump-start.”
While at NTI, Dustin says some of his teachers made a lifelong impression on him, not only with his work, but as a person, as well.
“They definitely know all their stuff and can tell you everything they've experienced, which is a big deal and helps you out,” Dustin says. “The knowledge they have is more than the average person. With a lot of them, it's good to hear their experiences and stories.”Building NASCAR Winners
When he started as an engine tear-down specialist at Roush Yates Engines, Dustin worked on engines coming back from the track, which were then logged into a system and went through a full disassembly process.
He advanced to a sub-assembly manager position, where he worked on inspecting and rebuilding parts, and checking mileage before the parts were shipped down to engine assemblers. Today, as an engine assembler, he spends his time building engines from start to finish.
Dustin says one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is that it allows him to continue to pursue his goal, which is to keep learning.
“It's always interesting,” Dustin says. “You learn something new every day. I'm new to engine building, but I keep learning. It's interesting and exciting, and it's not your everyday job.”
Dustin adds that because there are always going to be some kinds of cars and vehicles, there is always a demand for technicians, which makes the automotive industry a great career to pursue. Getting an education at UTI helps ensure success in the industry.
“UTI has definitely helped me out to get in here,” Dustin says. “I wouldn't be able to do it without the school.”
Dustin says for students who are curious about how to become a race team mechanic themselves someday, he advises to put forth as much effort as possible, since you get out what you put in.
“Make sure you go to class, don't come late, make sure you're there on time, and make sure you're there every day,” Dustin says. “Never give up. Keep pushing. Seek help and advice from instructors and even other students. They have a lot of experience and a lot of wisdom.”
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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.
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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.