Virtual Graduation Celebrates BMW STEP Grads

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute May 16, 2020 ·

While the COVID-19 crisis has brought social gatherings to a halt, this didn’t stop UTI from recognizing the incredible achievements of the latest class to graduate from the BMW STEP program in Avondale, Arizona.

Just last month, a full class of 16 students completed their training despite the many obstacles brought on by the pandemic our world is currently facing. In honor of these students, UTI hosted a virtual graduation to bring this tight-knit group together one last time before sending them out into the workforce.

This virtual ceremony was a great success and was well received by students, family and BMW. Keep reading to learn more about the STEP program and what took place at the graduation.

What is the BMW STEP Program?

The BMW STEP Manufacturer Specific Advanced Training program is a 16-week program in which students complete extensive training on BMW vehicles. This is a selective program for students who meet specific criteria after completing their core automotive program.15

The STEP program is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed to build a career at a BMW dealership. Instructors are trained by BMW so they can maintain specific training standards, and many come from BMW dealerships themselves.

Throughout the program, students complete 8 separate models and dive into topics such as new engine technology, body and engine electronics, undercar and chassis dynamics and more. The investment made by BMW to support this program is significant and gives students the opportunity to train on some of the latest vehicles and technology.

By completing this program, graduates will earn 11 factory training credentials and an Associate Level certification with the ability to earn Member Level status determined by BMW-specific ASE testing. This gives them an advantage over other entry-level technicians as they enter the workforce.1

The Transition to Online Learning

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, UTI made the transition to include online learning in a portion of its curriculum. This occurred while class AZ84 was 10 weeks into their 16-week BMW STEP training.

The shift to online learning required a heroic effort from UTI staff, instructors and students alike, and it was made possible with the determination and teamwork of everyone involved. In a matter of days, interactive online courses were up and running, and students were able to continue their training without missing a beat.

This BMW STEP training was unique in that classes were hosted live, giving students the opportunity to tune in, ask questions and engage with the instructors and one another. In fact, this online format was so effective that certain elements of the virtual training will be implemented in the STEP program moving forward.

For example, when demonstrating how to do intricate engine repairs in the lab, it’s often difficult for all 16 students to see what’s going on. By filming this process and allowing students to watch virtually, they are each able to get a much closer look at the tools and techniques used to complete the repair.

When students return to the lab in a modified format to abide by social distancing guidelines, this method will be especially helpful, as it will allow them to reenact what they’ve learned virtually. Even when classes are able to proceed as usual, this online component can serve as a tool to further enhance their training.

Recognizing Class AZ84

The most recent class to complete their BMW STEP training at UTI-Avondale, class AZ84, was a standout class. According to Jim Osborne, Education Supervisor for the BMW STEP Program, this group worked really well together and was committed to excellence despite the challenges they faced.

“They were a special class. They were so engaged and really showed a passion for their training, and they worked tremendously with us and the instructors as we developed this online curriculum,” Jim shares.

Class AZ84 dove right into their online training and was fully invested every step of the way. They finished with a 100% attendance rate in both the in-person and online portion of their program, which is quite the accomplishment.

Even though graduation wasn’t able to be held in person, Jim and his team at UTI wanted to do something special for the students. So, they decided to take the graduation experience online by hosting a virtual ceremony. Many graduates dressed up for the occasion, even in a cap and gown!

Body of Blog Virtual Graduation from UTI Trade School BMW STEP program


Involving friends and family is always an important aspect of UTI graduations, and this virtual ceremony was no different. Friends and family were invited to tune in virtually, and at one point, there were 50+ attendees.

The virtual presentation provided instructors with the opportunity to share what was so special about this class and highlight all of their incredible accomplishments over the course of the 16-week program. Several students shared remarks and thanked the instructors for investing in them and their futures.

There was also a guest speaker from BMW in attendance, who congratulated the graduates and gave them valuable advice before heading into the industry. The graduation was well-received by BMW, so much so that BMW’s National Training Manager Gary Uyematsu shared the following:

“I want to thank the STEP teams for all the work and dedication you put forth with this class. The speed in which you rolled out the training along with the professionalism of the E-Learning session confirmed we have one of the best programs industry. Keep up the great work!” 

Heading Into the Workforce

This group of students has a bright future ahead of them. Despite the unique circumstances the industry is facing right now, their skills are in-demand, and will be even more so as things go back to normal.

“Once the dealers start to open up, there will be a surge of service that’s required on vehicles,” Jim shares. There will be an expected uptick in service as people begin going to and from work again, which will require maintenance on their vehicles.

BMW STEP graduates are doing amazing things in the industry. Many have advanced to roles such as shop foreman, operations director and service manager, gone to work for BMW North America or even returned to UTI as STEP instructors.

This is an exciting career path, and the STEP program is really designed to be a stepping stone into a long-term career that students can build upon as they follow their passion.

Congratulations to class AZ84—we’re excited to follow your success in the years to come!

Train to Become a BMW STEP Certified Technician

Graduates of UTI’s 16-week BMW STEP program receive training credentials recognized by BMW Retail Centers nationwide. To learn more, visit our program page and request information to get in touch with an admissions representative today.


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