From UTI to Servicing Emergency Vehicles During the Pandemic

Oct 2, 2020 ·

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There are many heroes in our society, including doctors, teachers, veterans and emergency personnel, just to name a few. However, many heroes go unnoticed—among them being automotive and diesel technicians.

Auto and diesel techs who maintain essential service vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks and police cars play an incredibly important role in our society. We live a world that relies on medical professionals and emergency personnel every day, and it’s important to recognize the people who keep their vehicles running.

Universal Technical Institute (UTI) graduate Ben Phelps knows the importance of giving back to his community firsthand. Since graduating from UTI Orlando, Ben has been servicing emergency vehicles to ensure they are ready to serve their communities.

Continue reading to learn about Ben’s inspiring story and how he went from army helicopter technician to an emergency vehicle technician who’s helping first responders during a global pandemic.

Turning Wrenches From a Young Age

You could say that being a technician was in Ben’s blood. Ever since he was 10 years old, Ben has been turning wrenches with his dad and helping him work on cars.

Whether it was changing brakes or learning to do routine oil changes, Ben was always interested in learning about cars. His dad taught him the basics of car and engine maintenance, and his interest only grew as he sought job opportunities later in life.

Entering the Workforce

Ben began his professional career in 2010 when he started working as a firefighter. While in this role, he noticed that the firetrucks needed frequent maintenance, which sparked his interest in learning how to properly maintain an emergency vehicle.

In 2014, Ben made a career change and joined the Army as a black hawk helicopter mechanic. He worked on helicopters until he medically retired in 2018, which was when he began his search for a hands-on trade school to continue his education.

Luckily, Ben found the UTI Orlando campus to be the perfect fit for him. He was drawn to the school because it offered programs that applied to both his past career and future professional aspirations.

The UTI Experience

Ben very much enjoyed his experience at UTI, where he completed the Automotive and Diesel training programs. After his core training, he went on to take the Ford Accelerated Credential Training Program (FACT).

During his time at UTI, Ben quickly realized that several members of his class were also veterans. He felt like a mentor to some of the younger students and got along well with his instructors. He appreciated that his instructors were always willing to spend extra time explaining things to him if he didn’t understand the first time.

One of Ben’s favorite classes was the high performance class, and he also enjoyed his Ford FACT program. His training gave him the hands-on experience he needed to learn about electrical issues and diesel engines. 

Paving His Way in the Industry

After taking a month off to spend time with family, Ben began his new job servicing emergency personnel vehicles at Ten-8 Fire Equipment.

While he credits UTI for setting him up for success, his love of learning new things and working with his hands has helped him to succeed in his new job. These learning opportunities allow him to continue to grow to be the best technician he can and work toward becoming a mobile emergency vehicle technician.

Ben’s Advice for Aspiring Techs

According to Ben, students should be ready to learn a lot at UTI. He encourages students to take diesel classes and pay close attention to the air system and hydraulic courses, as all of this information will come into play when working on emergency vehicle trucks.

Ben encourages students who are looking for a fulfilling career path to consider becoming an emergency vehicle technician. There’s a shortage of these technicians within the industry, as the vehicles they work on need much more maintenance to keep running smoothly.5

Finally, Ben shared that networking and maintaining relationships after graduation is essential. He stays in touch with many of his classmates, who he now considers friends, and knows he can always contact if he’s trying to troubleshoot a mechanical issue at work or share a fun challenge he solved.

Overall, Ben’s story is proof that a combination of passion, hard work, and the right training can open the door to exciting career opportunities. 

Train for an Exciting Career

UTI’s campuses across the country deliver the hands-on experience needed to succeed as a technician in the field. To learn more and take the first step toward an exciting career, request information to get in touch with one of our Admissions Representatives today.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

5) UTI programs prepare graduates for careers in industries using the provided training, primarily as automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a technician, such as: parts associate, service writer, fabricator, paint and paint prep, and shop owner/operator. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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