Jordan Supercast

Jordan Supercast


Episode 204: JSD Jumpstarting Careers in Auto Mechanics and Repair

August 03, 2023

It is a program driving students to find success in the car care business.


On this episode of the Supercast, we stop by the auto mechanics shop at West Jordan High School. That’s where we meet the auto shop teacher and a student who just placed among the best in the country in a car repair competition. This truly is a class that is jumpstarting careers.



Audio Transcription
[Music]

Anthony Godfrey:

Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Join us as we visit a program driving students to find success in the car care business.


On this episode of the Supercast, we stop by the Auto Mechanic Shop at West Jordan High School. That's where we meet the Auto Shop teacher and a student who just placed among the best in the country in a car repair competition. This truly is a class that is jump-starting careers.


We're here in the West Jordan High School Auto Shop to talk about the SkillsUSA competition. Thanks for taking time. Introduce yourselves and let's talk about the competition.


Bryan Liddell:

I'm Bryan Liddell, Mr. Liddell, the automotive teacher here at West Jordan High.


Eli:

I'm Eli Atwood.


Anthony Godfrey:

And Eli, tell me about the competition. What does it involve and how did it go?


Eli:

So during the competition, we did brake inspection, we did tire inspection, we looked up service data, did a job interview, electrical stuff. So we diagnosed an electrical circuit, we had to build an electrical circuit. There's a written test and it went pretty well. I got 14th place out of 30.


Anthony Godfrey:

Wow. Where was the competition?


Eli:

It was in Atlanta, Georgia.


Anthony Godfrey:

Atlanta, Georgia. And your competition was from all over the country?


Eli:

Yeah, there was one person from every state. Well, not exactly, but there was-


Anthony Godfrey:

Roughly.


Eli:

Yeah, roughly one person from every state.


Anthony Godfrey:

It's interesting to me that they add all of these other layers to it. It's not just about working on the vehicle, it's also about the interview and the written test, tell me about that part of it.


Eli:

Yeah, so the interview, you're pretty much interviewing to apply for a shop or something like that. And then the test is just an ASC test that they take. There's 50 questions and you got 20 minutes to do it.


Anthony Godfrey:

Twenty minutes to answer how many questions?


Eli:

50.


Anthony Godfrey:

50? Well, I would get three of them answered and they'd all be wrong. That’s how much I know about auto mechanics. Tell me what got you interested in auto mechanics. I know from personal experience just how good you are at this.


Eli:

Thank you. So I've just always been interested in tinkering at home and then I came here to the high school and Bryan really got me involved in it. I've just been interested ever since. I'm working at an auto shop right now and I love it.


Anthony Godfrey:

So what type of work do you do at the auto shop? Just whatever comes your way?


Eli:

Everything, yeah, just automotive repair.


Anthony Godfrey:

And is that what you want to do as a career? You want to continue with that?


Eli:

Yeah, I'd like to be a mechanic and then one day own a shop.


Anthony Godfrey:

That's fantastic.


Eli:

Thank you.


Anthony Godfrey:

So tell me a little bit about this program. What do students do to qualify for this national competition?


Bryan Liddell:

We have a district competition, and then we go to the state competition. And each state gets to take one student in MLR, which is what Eli went in, which is Maintenance and Light Repair. And then there's also the ASE test. So you can take two students in the competition from each state. So for him to get to that level was amazing.


Anthony Godfrey:

Tell me about the ASE test.


Bryan Liddell:

The ASE test is actually what they use in the industry. All of the mechanics that get ASE certified have these tests, and they're all automotive-based tests. And they're mechanic A and mechanic B tests. So there's a lot of tricky questions. And it's something that he did really well. I'm master certified. I owned a shop for 18 years. So I try to run it like a shop and make it so that they understand what they're getting into the industry.


Anthony Godfrey:

And did this prepare you well? This program and this competition for working in an actual shop?


Eli:

Yeah, it definitely did. So Bryan, in the shop here, we'd be working, doing live work. We do stuff in the classroom. They really prepared me for what actually we're going to see in the real world.


Anthony Godfrey:

What is the hardest work that you do on a vehicle? What's the most difficult thing to do?


Eli:

Diagnostic for sure, and electrical stuff.


Anthony Godfrey:

Yeah.


Eli:

Trying to figure out electrical.


Anthony Godfrey:

Just figuring out what the problem is to start with. Tell me what vehicle this is.


Eli:

It's a Chevy Tahoe.


Anthony Godfrey:

All right. Talk me through the elements of the engine and the different components you would be working on in the light maintenance competition.


Eli:

So on something like this– So we had a car that we needed to pull a code on, and it had something with a crank signal. You had to pretty much take the code, you had to run through the diagnostic sheet on when you put it in the service data, and you test certain components on the engine with a multimeter and stuff like that.


Anthony Godfrey:

The multimeter, is that the little device that–tell me about what the multimeter is.


Eli:

Yeah, so the electrical device, you could test voltage with it, continuity, just different things like that.


Anthony Godfrey:

So it was an electrical issue?


Eli:

It was, yeah.


Anthony Godfrey:

Are you trying to solve the problem as quickly as you can?


Eli:

Yeah, so you only got 10 minutes, yeah. You have a worksheet, you have 10 minutes to do all that, so you gotta fill out the worksheet, diagnose the thing. Usually, you don't get through the whole thing, but–


Anthony Godfrey:

It would take 10 minutes just for me to do the search on YouTube to try to figure out what I'm supposed to do. So does everyone have the same problem that they're trying to solve? Everyone in the competition?


Eli:

So each time they reset the station and you gotta figure out the same thing. So it's all even.


Anthony Godfrey:

Okay, and what are some of the other aspects of the vehicle that you had to understand in order to be successful in a competition?


Eli:

Se we had to do tire identification, so you had to use a TPMS tool, the tire pressure monitor, and you had to trigger the sensor, see what all the pressures were at. You had to look at the tread on the tire, look if it's good or not. You had to measure the tread depth. You had to check brakes, you had to measure the brakes, look if they were good, check if they were warped or anything.


Anthony Godfrey:

Did you get to meet some people from around the country that were kind of fun to get to know?


Eli:

Yeah, I got to know some kids in my competition. We had a deep– like before the competition, we did a thing and I got to meet some of the kids and just met them. There was a kid from Oregon, got to talk to a little bit. There's kids from all over the US.


Anthony Godfrey:

Tell me all the different sounds that people make when they come in and describe what's happening with their car.


Eli:

Probably a--


Anthony Godfrey:

It makes this thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk sound or what are some of the others?


Eli:

Clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk.


Anthony Godfrey:

You're trying to diagnose, initially at least, I know it's all computerized for many vehicles, but you're trying to get the best description out of the customer also.


Eli:

Yeah, yeah for sure.


Anthony Godfrey:

So now you said that there's a mechanic one and mechanic two aspect to the competition. Tell me about what that means.


Bryan Liddell:

The difference is in high school level we teach MLR and at the college level they teach the AST, so each state gets to send two competitors.


Anthony Godfrey:

Oh, so it's a college level competitor and a high school.


Bryan Liddell:

And a high school level competitor, yes.


Anthony Godfrey:

Okay.


Bryan Liddell:

This is my first time going to nationals, so seeing all of the competitions. And I mean it's everything that is– you know from cutting hair and doing nails all the way up to building homes, automotive I mean there was–


Anthony Godfrey:

So all all the SkillsUSA competition is at the same time.


Bryan Liddell:

It's at the same time.


Anthony Godfrey:

Okay.


Bryan Liddell:

Yeah. There’s so many people at the competition that we have the Staples Center full. I mean, there's, I think, 430,000 SkillsUSA members across the country between advisors and students.


Anthony Godfrey:

Well, I think it's really exciting for us to be represented at that national level in various categories. And like I said, this is so far out of my realm of expertise that I'm very impressed at your skills and just your passion for the work.


Stay with us when we come back more at West Jordan High School.


[Music]

Break:

In Jordan School District, we like to support students in and outside the classroom along with their families. That's where the Jordan Family Education Center comes in, offering support services and a wide variety of classes for students and their families, free of charge. You can take a class called Blues Busters for children feeling sad or worried. Just Breathe is a class that helps students reduce stress. Or how about a class that supports parents in helping their children make and keep good friends. There are also support groups and free counseling, all provided by Jordan School District school psychologists and counselors. To find out how you can benefit from free family support services offered by the Jordan Family Education Center, call 801-565-7442 or visit guidance.jordandistrict.org.


Anthony Godfrey:

What would you say to a student who's thinking about getting into a program like this?


Bryan Liddell:

It was really great to hear Eli say that he enjoyed being in here, he loves working on cars and that he wants to own his own shop one day because that's exactly how I started out. I was sitting on the fender well of my grandpa's truck while he was doing stuff to it and I just decided one day I was going to own my own shop, and luckily all the cards were laid out right and I ended up owning my own shop for 18 years. And then I got the opportunity to come and help train technicians for the future, and I jumped on that. So I would say, even if it's something you're not into, you should take Intro to Auto because that's going to help you maintain your car a little bit so you're not spending a lot of money in the future. And then just take the more advanced classes and work your way up. There are a lot of students who take my class because mom or dad says you don't get a driver's license unless you take Auto.


Anthony Godfrey:

Oh yeah.


Bryan Liddell:

And then they find out that they really like auto.


Anthony Godfrey:

I love the idea that you get to drive a car only if you know how to maintain and repair one.


Bryan Liddell:

Yeah, well I think that's, you know, the basic maintenance, you know, being able to change a tire or something like that is very important.


Anthony Godfrey:

Yeah.


Bryan Liddell:

Even if this isn't something you want to do for a career. You should want to do this for a career. It's an awesome career and we can't all do the same thing.


Anthony Godfrey:

Sure.


Bryan Liddell:

You know, so.


Anthony Godfrey:

Yeah, and it's a skill that, I mean, most people are going to end up owning a vehicle at one time or another and all of those vehicles need maintenance and they're going to need repair. What is it that made you want to go into education?


Bryan Liddell:

That one's kind of a funny story. When I was in high school, I took auto mechanics and I fell in love with it. I mean I already was because of my grandfather getting me into it and everything. But I ended up my senior year, I was able to take three of my periods were Auto Mechanics and on A day and then on B day I had Auto Mechanics for two periods and then I had woods and then I had work release. So I spent a lot of time in the shop my senior year. And when I graduated, my teacher actually wrote me a three page letter about how I should go to school and be a teacher. I kind of laughed at him. And then here I am, oh, I was 40, 42, I believe, when they came. When one of the teachers here, who I happen to work on her car all the time at my shop, came and said, "We need an auto teacher." And I thought about it, and then I came down, and this has been probably one of the best decisions I've ever made. I love my job.


Anthony Godfrey:

I love hearing that. That's a great story. And did the teacher who wrote you that letter find out that you ended up teaching?


Bryan Liddell:

No, it's kind of sad. He had passed away already, but that was pretty neat. I never even saw that in me back then, but it was great that he could.


Anthony Godfrey:

It's amazing that he saw that potential, and ultimately, that's where you ended up. And how long have you been here at West Jordan now?


Bryan Liddell:

Next year, I think, will be my seventh year or eighth year. You know how the years are different.


Anthony Godfrey:

The years blend, yes. All those COVID years contract. After students graduate from this program, where do they end up? What are some of the things they do with the skills they've learned?


Bryan Liddell:

There are a lot of shops out there hiring right now. Eli works at a great shop, but there's also post-secondary. You can go to, there's a bunch of technical colleges that you can go and get some degrees in. I know that because of the competitions that Eli has some scholarships to go to college also.


Anthony Godfrey:

Now you've got a variety of vehicles here and it catches my eye that you've got a golf cart up on a lift. Tell me about what's going on there.


Bryan Liddell:

That one is the baseballs.


Anthony Godfrey:

Oh, baseball's golf cart.


Bryan Liddell:

Baseball's golf cart.


Anthony Godfrey:

So if it has wheels, they're going to bring it into you for repair.


Bryan Liddell:

Well, and I love that, especially when we teach the oil changes. I send out a thing to the teachers, and then they're able to come in and have their oil changed. And the kids get to work on live work. And it also makes them happy, because they can go to math and say I'm the one that did your oil change.


Anthony Godfrey:

Now that does not hurt your grade if you're able to help out a teacher's car. Eli, have you found that to be true?


Eli:

I have found that to be true.


Anthony Godfrey:

(laughing) Suddenly they're relying on you and that doesn't hurt when they're calculated grades. (laughing) And you know what, you probably will have to protect yourself the rest of your life from people who say, “Hey, Eli, you're a mechanic, any chance you could come over and take a look at this?” How do you handle that?


Eli:

I just try to help out people. If I know them, good. Might as well.


Anthony Godfrey:

That's awesome.


Bryan Liddell:

That is something that's great about this, because at the current moment, I have three cars sitting in my driveway because it's summer and everybody knows I'm not here.


Anthony Godfrey:

Yeah.


Bryan Liddell:

So yeah, and it's great to be able to not only have a skill that helps you pay your bills, but also to be able to help out friends and family who are in need.


Anthony Godfrey:

My dad was a mechanic in the summers. He was a university professor, and in the summers, he worked as an auto mechanic at Sears in their automotive. And it's been really awesome that I can always call my dad and say, “Hey, my car's doing this or my car's doing that.” And people have come to him over the years for some help. So that's a nice thing. And it's a nice connect with people in your neighborhood, family, and friends that they know they can rely on you for some help. I think it's awesome. Well, you're going to make a lot of friends with these skills, Eli, and have a great career ahead of you. I've known you for a long time and it's really exciting to see you at this stage and see all your accomplishments. So congratulations.


Eli:

Thank you, appreciate it.


Anthony Godfrey:

And thank you, Mr. Liddell, for providing such a great experience for our students here.


Bryan Liddell:

You're welcome. Like I said, I love my job. Keep 'em coming.


Anthony Godfrey:

I'm grateful for all those circumstances that brought you here.


Bryan Liddell:

Me too.


Anthony Godfrey:

All right, thanks guys. Thanks for the time and good luck with everything.


Eli:

Thank you.


[MUSIC]

Anthony Godfrey:

Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.


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