David Gadacz's Rewards of Being an Automotive Instructor at UTI Orlando

"It's not just a job - you get to touch people's lives."


In looking back at his career as an instructor, David Gadacz realizes that he’s not only helped educate students but he's built personal connections with them.

"It's not just a job - you get to touch people's lives," David says about his time as a teacher.

And sometimes those students whose lives he’s helped transform come back to share their success. He had one UTI grad who had struggled and had challenges visit him to let him know how David had impacted his life. This former student told David, “You helped me, I couldn’t have done it without you.’” He then handed David a card that read, “Your dedication to pass down your experience, wisdom and knowledge doesn’t go unnoticed. Thanks for being the cornerstone of my new career.” This was a note of gratitude that touched David and he admits made him a bit choked up.

One of UTI’s guiding principles is, “To change the world one life at a time by helping people achieve their dreams.” UTI’s instructors are instrumental in giving students the education and support they may need to help them succeed in working towards what they want to be.

Like so many who go into the automotive field, David’s interests in mechanics started at a young age. He was always taking things apart and putting them back together to see how they worked, with the family lawnmower getting a lot of attention. His parents fully supported his mechanical explorations. At 14 he got his first job. And at 17 he had already earned his ASE certification. This was no easy feat. But his eagerness and determination he got him there.

He attended vocational high school and worked in the afternoon. This was a heavy load that took discipline, but fed his desire to learn all that he could about cars. He moved on to building race cars and racing himself. At 16 he got behind the wheel of a race car for the first time and spent the next ten years racing at the drag strip.

Now 40+ years into his career in the automotive field he’s still obsessed with building cars and racing. He’s particularly proud of a 1922 T-bucket with the original title, a car he’s always wanted, that’s a part of his collection. It’s this love of racing and cars that he brings to the courses he teaches. Seeing that same excitement in his students also inspires him.

Today David teaches both Power & Performance I and Power & Performance II. Two classes that let him share his passion and knowledge about race cars.

Power & Performance I gives students the chance to take apart a 350 cubic inch engine and put it back together. For many students this is the first time they’ve done a project so involved. Power & Performance II offers a deeper analysis into troubleshooting and the mechanics of the 350 cubic inch engine. “What they do is take that engine and put it into a T-bucket. Then they make it run as long as possible. If something isn’t going right they need to figure out how to fix it.”

Depending on time available, students may also get the chance to see just how supercharging an engine and/or how nitrous works. For those who are fascinated by race cars and making things go faster, the Power & Performance classes give them the chance to see how customizing engines works in the real world. With his lifetime of racing experience, David is a fantastic instructor to lead these classes. And these students, whose are equally obsessed with cars, are the ideal audience to share his excitement with.

For those UTI grads entering the workforce, David thinks that patience is one of the most important things that they need to have. Success is a lifelong journey, with each step being an achievement towards bigger things. Finding a focus early on can help advance one’s career.

“A lot of people who start out at six months or a year are like, ‘I’m still doing oil changes!’ - give yourself time, I know that two years might seem like a lot of time, but you’ll find your way to going flat rate. Get to know one product then branch out.”

As an instructor at UTI David gets to inspire and educate the next generation of mechanics. Just like them, he grew up with a love of working with his hands and was driven by a curiosity to learn all that he could about cars. Today he still builds cars and is still learning. He's still engaged with the automotive world, and this lets him stay up to date on advancements and to connect with his students.


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