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EJ Maltezo Learns the Confidence to be a Toyota Technician

"The instructors at UTI are who made me strive to be the person I am today."


EJ Maltezo started tinkering with cars when he was in third grade. His dad was building a 1986 Toyota pickup, and EJ would come in and wrench on things. His dad taught him to change the oil. This was when he first discovered what he could do with his hands.

After high school, EJ planned to enlist in the military. But plans changed when he discovered Universal Technical Institute and decided to take his own path. “I’m not really good with books,” he says. He liked that UTI would focus on labs and real hands-on experiences.

Originally from Lanai, Hawaii, an island of less than 3,500 people, EJ moved to Arizona, near UTI’s Avondale campus, in the middle of the summer. As a family person, it was hard to venture out there by himself. He tried to be open-minded.

It was a culture shock, he admits. Far from family, and … the weather! He’d gone from a high of 75 to a high of 120. “I came here in July, the hottest time of summer!” But soon he found other people like himself, others who were from Hawaii, others who loved to wrench on cars and work with their hands as much as he did.

EJ now works as a used car technician at Toyota of Surprise where he practices what he learned in his automotive, diesel and Ford FACT classes. Customers walk in for all different reasons. They might have questions about a car they just bought, need routine maintenance, or are trying to diagnose a strange noise their car is making.

Service advisors assign work to the technicians each morning. Sometimes EJ helps different techs or assists with car diagnostics. Other times he’s performing alignments, tire pressure checks, as well as mounts and dismounts on tires.

“You don’t learn everything from going to school,” he says. You learn a lot from actually being in the industry, meeting different people and seeing different problems on vehicles. EJ formed these connections while he was attending UTI, through industry training and career days. Now, post-graduation, he’s able to foster and benefit from those relationships in his career.

EJ credits part of his successes to the instructors that helped guide him. “The instructors [at UTI] are who made me strive to be the person I am today.” He describes them as always open-hearted and open-handed, willing to do whatever they need to do to help us.

His five-year goal is to be in a position like his manager’s. If that doesn’t pan out, he may venture out on his own and start a shop. UTI has given him the confidence to work toward and reach for these goals.

People’s vehicles are a necessity. “They have a vehicle to go from point A to point B,” EJ says.  Making people smile when their cars are fixed, he says, to be able to use your hands to fix their cars, for him it’s the best part about being a technician.

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