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As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped our nation, many people were asked to stay at home. However, they were only able to shelter in place because of the heroic nature of so many essential workers—from firefighters and police officers to ambulance drivers transporting patients and truck drivers delivering food, medication and numerous other products.
In order for these frontline workers to do their jobs, they relied on their vehicles to get where they needed to go. As a result, some of the unsung heroes during this global health crisis are our automotive and diesel technicians who worked hard to keep these cars and trucks running.
Universal Technical Institute (UTI) graduate Colton Grauman knows the vital role vehicles play in keeping our country running. Since leaving UTI Lisle at the start of the pandemic, he’s worked as a technician for Dave Knapp Ford in West Milton, Ohio, servicing vehicles that belong to individuals, police and fire departments, and more.1
Read on to learn about Grauman’s experience jumping into a technician role at a critical time and how UTI helped prepare him for a hands-on career servicing vehicles.
Grauman started working for Dave Knapp Ford in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 virus was beginning to spread in the United States. And while the pandemic unfolded and many people were required to stay home, he continued to work on a steady flow of cars needing to be serviced.
Whether it’s a fleet of fire department vehicles or an independent customer, Grauman services cars each day that typically have their “check engine” lights on. His first step is to diagnose the problem, hook up the vehicle and pull codes. Depending what the codes reveal, Grauman determines where to start his work. Usually, that means looking under the hood and checking the wiring.
According to Grauman, servicing vehicles for people who are not considered essential workers is just as important to him as servicing the fire and EMT department vehicles he works on. Grauman says the role of a technician is very important, especially so people can get where they need to be.
Non-essential workers also need to feed their families, get supplies and go to the grocery store. He feels his work during the pandemic is just as important as any other day at work, and he still embodies the same passion for working on cars as he did prior to the pandemic.
Grauman first became interested in vehicles when he was around 3 years old. Intrigued by taking things apart and putting them back together, he found himself watching his dad and neighbors every time they were doing work on a car. His passion at such an early age likely was the first indicator he would pursue a career as a technician one day.
Fast forward several years to when Grauman began researching automotive schools. Even though the Lisle campus was located outside his home state of Ohio, UTI stood out to him because of its strong reviews and high graduate employment rate.3 Grauman decided to enroll at UTI Lisle to train for a career as an automotive technician.
Grauman completed the Automotive Technology program taught by instructors who were very knowledgeable and always willing to answer his questions. He also has fond memories of his classmates, including a time they drove to Chicago for dinner and when they went to an arcade for the afternoon.
According to Grauman, his education at UTI prepared him for what he faces daily in his career. In addition to hands-on technician training, he also took classes in the Ford Accelerated Credential Training (FACT) program, which have proved helpful for his current role. Grauman started his full-time career just one month after he
graduated from UTI.
As a technician at Dave Knapp Ford, he spends most of his days diagnosing and servicing vehicles that are brought in. He also spends a lot of time with wires, noting it’s not uncommon to find that rodents have chewed through vehicle wires.
Grauman recommends that anyone who is interested in a job in the automotive technician industry should get some initial experience to gauge if it’s a fit for them. He suggests asking a local shop to let you observe their technicians at work for a day.
If you’re like Grauman and had a childhood filled with taking things apart and putting them back together, his career may be the right fit for you.
Overall, Grauman is very pleased with his career choice. His favorite moments on the job are diagnosing a vehicle correctly on the first try. He also says starting a car to find it’s working correctly after servicing is a great feeling. “Every time I go to work, I know I’ll enjoy my day,” he adds.
Looking to the future, Grauman hopes to one day become a senior master technician at Dave Knapp Ford. When he’s not diagnosing and fixing vehicles at work, you can find him riding motorcycles.
UTI’s Automotive Technology program provides hands-on maintenance and repair experience to prepare for a career. Whether it’s simple engine systems or performance machines, you’ll receive comprehensive automotive training to learn the skills that are in demand.
NASCAR Tech grad Hank Fowler is part of a team making PPE for healthcare workers at NASCAR’s R&D center. Read about it here.
UTI diesel grad Dylan Bansi is helping to keep trucks on the road during the coronavirus pandemic. Learn about his story here.
Learn how a group of UTI instructors stepped up to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis.
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.
14) Incentive programs and employee eligibility are at the discretion of the employer and available at select locations. Special conditions may apply. Talk to potential employers to learn more about the programs available in your area.
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.
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